Cumin

Vegan Stuffed Peppers with Harissa-Tahini Dressing

August  3, 2020
5 Ratings
Photo by Gema Hamshaw
Author Notes

I’ve created—and consumed—my fair share of stuffed peppers. I’ve topped, stuffed, and baked them upright. I’ve even tried parboiling the peppers prior to stuffing and roasting them, so that they cook through before the filling has a chance to dry out (an easy mishap when there’s no protective cheese blanket). I’ve even tried adding cooked filling to roasted peppers. Both methods work fine, but neither made for a unified pepper-and-filling experience.

Lately—and I think this is my best method yet— I’ve been halving and roasting the peppers for a full 25 to 30 minutes prior to adding my filling. Not only is this more streamlined than parboiling (one less pot to clean and burner to heat!), but the peppers emerge soft, juicy, and subtly smoky, thanks to the extended roasting time.

As for the filling, I thought about everything I wanted from a summer supper: for it to be bursting with fresh produce, color, and starring my two favorite nightshades (tomatoes and peppers). Toothy lentils and quinoa serve as the base, tomato paste and harissa as backup vocals for their fresh counterparts, and a handful of cherry tomatoes get tossed in a hot pan until they burst with sunshine. A hearty and punchy filling as-is, this could easily serve as dinner on its own, maybe with a leafy salad alongside. But, once spooned into the peppers, the grains drink in all those pepper juices, becoming all the more flavorful (and sitting down to a stuffed pepper supper is just all-around more fun, I’m sure you’ll agree).

Finish with a generous sprinkling of chopped tender herbs (parsley and mint are suggested here, but try basil, chives, oregano, cilantro, too!), or, if you’re feeling a little more effortful: a quick, creamy harissa-tahini dressing.
Gena Hamshaw

  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 4 to 6, and 3/4 cup sauce
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup dry quinoa (or 3 cups cooked)
  • 2/3 cup dry brown, green, or Pardina lentils (or 1 3/4 cups cooked)
  • 4 large red or yellow bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing the peppers
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon harissa, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Splash of red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint and/or parsley leaves, for garnish
  • Harissa Tahini Dressing (below), for drizzling
  • Harissa Tahini Dressing
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon harissa, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup water, plus more as needed
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Bring a medium pot of generously salted water (estimating 1 teaspoon of salt per quart of water) to a boil. Add the lentils and boil until tender but not mushy, about 25 minutes. Drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, rinse your quinoa through a fine sieve until the water runs clear. In another medium pot, combine the quinoa and 1 1/3 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 13 minutes, or until the quinoa is fluffy and the water is absorbed. Remove the covered quinoa from the heat, and let stand 5 minutes before fluffing the grains with a fork. Both the lentils and quinoa can be prepared and stored in the fridge for several days before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.
  3. Heat your oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and pith. Lightly brush the peppers with olive oil, and bake the peppers cut-side up for 25-30 minutes, or until the peppers are softened and juicy but not yet browned.
  4. While the peppers roast, heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the cherry tomatoes, and cook, stirring every so often, until the tomatoes have burst and are looking saucy, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring well, then add the tomato paste and harissa and cook for another 1 minute.
  5. Add the cooked quinoa and lentils, cumin, and salt to the skillet. Stir to coat the grains well. Taste and adjust seasonings with harissa and vinegar. Remove the filling from heat.
  6. When the peppers have roasted for about 30 minutes, remove them from the oven. Divide the filling between the peppers, and bake until browned on the bottom, about 10-15 minutes.
  7. Garnish the stuffed peppers with the herbs and a drizzle of tahini dressing, if desired.
  1. Harissa Tahini Dressing
  2. Whisk all sauce ingredients together in a small mixing bowl until smooth. Add 1-2 extra tablespoons of water to reach a consistency you like. The dressing will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

Gena is a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and food blogger. She's the author of three cookbooks, including Power Plates (2017) and Food52 Vegan (2015). She enjoys cooking vegetables, making bread, and challenging herself with vegan baking projects.