I was picking up groceries at Sprouts Farmers Market this week when I spotted new red and yellow striped peppers. I did a little research and discovered the colorful “stripy peppers” were developed as a way to get kids to eat more veggies. They combine the sweet flavors of red and yellow peppers while allegedly providing more vitamin c than an orange. I wasn’t planning on making stuffed peppers this week but these stripy peppers inspired me to try something new.
Polenta is a type of cornmeal popular in Italian cooking and can be purchsed in different forms. The only way it’s available locally is in the refrigerated section of my grocery store, packed in a large tube similar to breakfast sausage. That form is too dense for the peppers so in this recipe, you reconstitute the polenta by heating it in warm coconut milk. If you don’t have or don’t care for coconut milk, try vegetable broth. Whatever form of polenta you find, just prepare it per the package instructions. Stripy peppers are new to me so if they haven’t made it to your neighborhood try yellow or red peppers. Green peppers will work just fine but the red and yellow peppers are sweeter and compliment the spicy meet better in my opinion.
I again rely on my favorite soy-free, vegan, gluten free beef replacement, Beyond Beef Beefy Crumble. If Beyond Meat products aren’t available in your area, use whatever vegan, gluten free beef replacement crumbles are available in your area. I was able to stuff four small-medium sized peppers with this recipe. You may yield more or less depending on the size of the pepper.
Vegan Gluten Free Polenta “Sausage” Stuffed Peppers
5 red or yellow striped peppers
16 oz. tube cooked polenta
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 11 oz. package Beyond Beef Beefy Crumble
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tsp. fennel
1 tsp. anise seed
2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp. garlic
14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
15 oz. can tomato sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the tops off of 4 of the peppers. Reserve tops and set aside. Remove ribs and seeds from inside the peppers. Remove the seeds and ribs from the fifth pepper and dice.
Chop up the tube of cooked polenta and add to a sauce pan along with the coconut milk. Stir over medium heat often, breaking up the chunks of polenta until the polenta breaks down and has absorbed the coconut milk resulting in a porridge consistency. Remove from heat and set aside.
Add the Beyond Beef Beefy Crumble, onion, chopped fifth pepper, fennel, anise seed and garlic to a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Sauté until beef is thawed and the peppers and onions are tender. Stir in the polenta and diced tomatoes and add salt and pepper to taste. Let cook for 2-3 additional minutes.
Coat the bottom of an 8×8 baking dish with tomato sauce. Stuff each pepper with the polenta and sausage mixture and place standing up in the dish. Pour tomato sauce over each pepper. Place the pepper tops on a foil lined baking sheet and lighty coat with cooking spray.
Place the pepper tops and stuffed peppers into a 350 degree oven. Remove the pepper tops after 30 minutes. Leave the stuffed peppers to cook for an additional 15-20 minutes or until peppers are tender (look for wrinkles in the pepper skin). Remove from the oven and serve peppers over additional tomato sauce, crown each with their original baked top.