Cauliflower Stuffed Peppers | FoodLovesWriting.com

Like businesses, music, vacations and books, most meals begin as ideas—but as ideas that come more quickly down the mental conveyor belt than sonatas or summer getaway plans. A conversation at the office jogs a memory of Grandma’s butter cookies, and the kitchen finds you rolling dough; a blog post inspires dessert and you’re beelining for the pantry; or, unexpectedly on a weekday afternoon, a hunt through the refrigerator, opening drawers and crispers, fills your hands with bright red peppers and cauliflower and recalls a possibility you’d almost forgotten—and then, that quick, momentary thought, incubated right away in discussion and action, becomes a recipe you test twice in one week with your husband, the two of you lost together in discovery, in watching the abstract become something you hold in your hands and eat.

Cauliflower Stuffed Peppers | FoodLovesWriting.com

Weddings, books, business ideas—all of them take months or years to build. But dinner tonight? That very idea hitting you this morning, maybe while you read this post, can come to fruition as quickly as this evening, you and your loved ones gathering around the table to partake in something new. As you combine ingredients in new ways, you invite yourself into instant creation, the kind that not only feeds your body but also expands your experience, the kind that broadens your perspective of food, and therefore life. By putting your hands together, this instant, to build a meal you’ve never made, you illustrate the full cycle of how we imagine and then do.

Cauliflower Stuffed Peppers | FoodLovesWriting.com

There’s a unique pleasure, I think, in the immediacy of kitchen work. It’s so unlike the lengthy, drawn-out way most plans move forward and complete. Tossing tomatoes in warm olive oil and garlic, for example, the scent and sound of it assaulting you with its reality, with its physical significance and presence, strikes the mind differently than filling lines in spreadsheets or writing words in a .doc. Perhaps this immediacy, this stuffing peppers and baking them for lunch, is one of the kitchen’s greatest gifts to us. A project stalls, a baby won’t come, a promotion is postponed, and yet, the kitchen remains, ready for us, willing us to respond to other anticipations with a work that does deliver, one that always has and will.




Cauliflower Stuffed Peppers
Serves three as a main course

A quick word on ricing cauliflower, which although not new to this site (not when we’ve used it for cauliflower pizza crusts and cauliflower fried rice), could be new to some of you. Here is what you do: simply break the cauliflower florets away from their stalk and blend them in a food processor until they resemble rice or, really, cous cous.

Also, on these Italian-style stuffed peppers: In a perfect world, we’d have stuffed basil, not parsley, into the hollowed pepper shells; however, it is mid-February in the South and, right now, basil’s hard to come by. The parsley is a good second choice—but those of you with thriving basil plants (or sunnier climates) may opt for a more traditional Italian style.

One more thing: For another example of cauliflower-stuffed peppers, see our friend Carrie Vitt’s post at Deliciously Organic

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more for garnish
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
5 ounces of fresh grape tomatoes, halved (this made about a cup for me)
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 head of cauliflower, riced (ours made about two cups; see headnote)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
1 cup whole-milk ricotta
Pepper (and salt) to taste
3 bell peppers, hollowed, with stems cut out and seeds discarded
1/2 cup water
6 slices raw-milk mozzarella cheese (or whatever mozzarella you prefer)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375F. In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium-low to medium heat. Add chopped garlic. After a few minutes, when garlic begins to turn a little golden and become more fragrant, add tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until tomatoes are soft and you see some of the skins beginning to separate. Add riced cauliflower and stir to combine everything well. Turn off heat. Add parsley and ricotta; stir to incorporate. Salt and pepper to taste.

Fill the insides of your three hollowed peppers with this cauliflower mixture and set, bottoms down, in a baking dish. Fill the dish with 1/2 cup of water and cover with parchment and aluminum foil*. Place dish in oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until peppers are soft enough to pierce with a fork.

Remove baking dish from oven and carefully remove the peppers to a cutting board. Turn the oven to low broil. Slice the cooked peppers in half vertically, laying them on their backs back in the baking dish (we did this in two batches because of the dish’s size). Top each half with a slice of mozzarella and place the peppers under the broiler until the cheese melts and browns. Repeat with remaining peppers.

To serve, garnish the peppers with drizzles of olive oil and extra chopped fresh parsley. Enjoy!

*The idea here is to keep the peppers covered while they bake; we happened to have some parchment-lined aluminum foil on hand (long story) so that’s what we used here. However, a layer of parchment and then a layer of aluminum foil would also work; the reason for the parchment barrier is to protect the food from the aluminum.

Cooksnaps
Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 27 Comments

  1. Kathryn

    I love the way you make me think about life in a different light – you describe that familiar spark that ignites a recipe idea but you take it one step further. That immediacy really is a gift.

  2. Lindsey @ Pas de Deux

    Oh, Shanna, you always articulate things that, after reading your post, I realize resonate so deeply with what I have been thinking lately. The immediacy of the kitchen, and the promise of fulfillment, is such a wonderful pleasure! Thank you, once again, for your words and your creative recipe.

  3. Helene @ French Foodie Baby

    Oh Shanna this is getting on our menu next week for sure, sounds like a delicious idea! It’s so true, what you said about the kitchen giving us an instant gratification of sorts, compared to other challenges in life. Every day, I’m amazed at the number of positive things coming out of the kitchen or the dinner table, the lessons learned, the creative outlet that it is as you so eloquently describe it here, the therapeutic aspect… it’s such a rich part of life.

  4. Katie (A Fork in Hand)

    Your description of the creative process of recipe development is absolutely spot on! I find myself going through a nearly identical process whenever an idea strikes: that “aha!” moment followed by frantically scribbling my thoughts down in a notebook before the ideas leave my head as quickly as they came, then everything finally culminating in something tasty to share. And I adore your creative take on stuffed peppers.

  5. jacquie

    you put into such lovely words that which i have felt myself – that the act of cooking/baking in and of itself is grounding, nourishing and reasuring. sometimes i think it is the only thing that has kept me on this earth during the last couple of very traumatic years.

    the dish looks lovely but do you have any suggestions as to what those of us without a food processor might do? yes there are a few of us left ….

    1. Shanna Mallon

      I so agree, Jacquie. Cooking is a world that makes more sense than things around us!

      As far as food processor alternatives, perhaps a blender? The idea is to get the cauliflower completely broken up into little rice-sized pieces — if you wanted to experiment, you could chop it all as finely as possible by hand and just go with a bigger-sized chunk… tastes would probably be fairly similar. That said, a food processor is so worth buying sometime down the road. I use mine all the time! : )

      1. jacquie

        oh believe me if i had any money i would buying a food processor or a blender. unfortunately having to rather suddenly leave a bad domestic situation i am having to requip the kitchen from the ground up with very little money. so it looks like a knife will have to do if i want to try this…..

          1. Amy

            jacquie – in addition to the craigslist suggestion, many salvation army depots have a houseware department. I have seen food processors and such and the prices can’t be beat. Good luck and best wishes – amy

  6. Tricia

    Shanna, a just discovered you through Thank Your Body’s repost of your cauliflower stuffed peppers recipe. When I got to the end and saw the picture of the kale and eggs, I just had to click on it. Your beautifully worded post inspired me to create a whole new board on Pinterest – Inspirational Blog Posts – because it deserved to be in a category other than Recipes (although I put it there, too). I have often wished I could start a blog about our homesteading life, but have been held back by just such thoughts as you’ve expressed so eloquently. Thanks to you, I am feeling inspired to revisit the idea, and I’m also inspired to make kale and eggs this morning! I have some left over from the first bunch I’ve ever purchased in my life, from which I’ve already made two delicious dishes. And my hens will be supplying the eggs!
    Than you so much for all you do! I am your newest fan!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Oh, Tricia, what a great comment. Honestly, hearing responses like this is part of what makes blogging so much fun. Best wishes to you in pursuing your blog and Pinterest board (great ideas! both of them!) — I’m rooting for you!

  7. Marie

    Shanna I woke up thinking about what to cook today and mentally went through the fridge and came up with a version of this very recipe!! I stuffed my peppers with roasted cauliflower and black beans and cilantro and some salsa…it was great. I will try this one out next time!! Thanks for posting…and for this beautiful blog :)

  8. Amy

    Hi Shanna – I made these last night (with basil instead of parsley) and I really liked them! Very comforting and yet energizing. I am loving the cauliflower variations! I want to make the enchiladas, too!

    I also love your watercolors. I am a fairly new reader, but seeing you evolve and take risks recently has been inspiring. Keep it going :)

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