After I learned that I can no longer have soy I knew I needed to get a little more creative. These stuffed bell peppers were the first thing that came to mind. Protein filled barley mixed with nutrient-rich veggies make them a perfect balance of what we all need to survive on a plant-based diet.
The one downside I have come across with eating more whole foods and less processed food is the frequency of my hunger. That is due to vegetables having fewer calories but they make up for it in vitamins and minerals. So these days I’ve been snacking a lot on more veggies. There’s nothing wrong with that!
I hope you enjoy these peppers as much as we did. We actually had stuffing leftover and I can tell you it is perfectly fine by itself too if you don’t feel like stuffing peppers. The cashew cream is completely optional but it does offer a nice creaminess to mix in with the other textures.
Makes about 8 stuffed peppers
- 8 bell peppers, any color
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup pearled barley
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 4 ounces mushrooms, diced
- 1 bunch kale, stems removed and torn into small pieces
- 1 small to medium onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 1 teaspoon basil
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- salt and pepper, to taste
- pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 cup marinara sauce, store-bought or homemade
- cashew cream (recipe below)
- Combine barley with water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until water is absorbed.
- While barley is cooking slice a thin layer off the top of the bell peppers, remove seeds and membrane. Chop up the top of the bell pepper and set aside.
- Heat oil in skillet. Saute carrot, onion, garlic, and bell pepper tops for 5 minutes. Stir in seasonings and cook for an additional minute.
- Add in mushrooms and kale, cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until kale is wilted, stirring occasionally.
- Drain barley if necessary and add to skillet along with the marinara sauce. Stir to combine and heat through. I used marinara sauce since that’s what I had on hand but you can use a can of tomato sauce or freshly pureed tomatoes.
- Stuff peppers with mixture and stand peppers up in an oven safe baking dish.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover peppers with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Uncover, top with cashew cream and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
- Let cool slightly and serve.
- 1 cup whole raw unsalted cashews
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup fresh water
- Combine first 2 ingredients in a bowl and soak overnight in the fridge or at least for 8 hours.
- Drain cashews.
- Transfer cashews, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup fresh water to a food processor or use a hand blender. Puree until smooth.
If you happen to have some cashew cream leftover you can turn it into a wonderful Nutella-like spread. I mixed mine with 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon agave nectar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. I had a lot leftover though so you may want to play around with those ratios depending on how much you have. I think it would make a great frosting or dip for fruit.