Peppers stuffed with black beans & brown rice

We have a wide range of food interests and preferences in our extended family, all the way from vegan and vegetarian to others who never pass up a chance to have beef or pork. That means I’m always on the hunt for nice dishes that will satisfy just about everyone. This recipe for stuffed bell peppers is a crowdpleaser at our home and is a amalgam of several recipes I’ve found online.

The basics are, well, pretty basic: 4 to 6 bell peppers, any color (I prefer yellow, orange, and red over green, but green works too); 2 scant cups of cooked black beans; 1 cup of corn kernels, either plain or roasted; 2 scant cups of cooked brown rice; 1 cup of pico de gallo or salsa; 2 teaspoons of ground cumin; not shown: 2 cups vegetarian broth; 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper; and salt to taste. (Optional for those who are veggie but not vegan: 1 cup shredded cheddar, 1/2 cup sour cream for garnish.)

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One word about the black beans. You can use either canned black beans (drained and rinsed) or, as I do, dried black beans that have been soaked for at least 8 hours. For this recipe, I soaked one cup of dried black beans in the veggie broth so that they would be infused with nice aromas and flavors. You can also add veggie broth to the water in cooking the rice, if you like.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, Fahrenheit. Line a large baking pan with foil. Rinse, halve, and core the peppers. My local Whole Foods happened to have these lovely striped bell peppers. There’s no difference in taste, but they would be perfect for serving this dish for company. (They’re even striped on the inside!)

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In a large bowl, mix together the cooked rice, cooked beans, corn kernels (I used roasted corn kernels to add even more smokiness to the dish), pico de gallo, cumin, and chipotle pepper.

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(You can just see my wonderful Staybowlizer underneath the bowl!) Back to business. Combine with a wooden spoon until well-blended. Add salt to taste, if desired.

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Spoon the mixture into the bell pepper halves and place in the baking dish.

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Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes on the top oven rack. Remove from the oven, raise the temperature to 400 degrees, Fahrenheit, and take the foil off the top. Put back in the oven and bake for another 25 to 35 minutes, until the peppers are just tender but not mushy. (If veggie-not-vegan, sprinkle the top with shredded cheddar after about 15 minutes. Put back in the oven and let the cheese melt.)

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Serve with guacamole or avocado slices, more pico de gallo or salsa, or (if veggie-not-vegan), with sour cream as a garnish.

Enjoy!

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