Grilled mini peppers with spiced walnut and lentil crumble are a pantry-friendly, super simple, protein-packed vegan main course.
My dad gave me a few pepper plants at the start of the growing season a few months ago. We always grow a selection of hot ones and some regular sweet bells too. None of my pepper plants are doing great this year, but I noticed that my bell pepper plant had a bunch of perfect-looking, weirdly miniature red peppers hanging amongst the leaves. It was odd to me that they were so small! I figured I messed something up in terms of location or watering.
But nope! They were mini bell peppers this whole time. Silly me :). They are so sweet, delicious, and undeniably cute. Perfect for stuffing and snacking on.
When I have my life together enough, I love to do component cooking and produce prep so that my meals come together a little bit smoother. One of my favourite things to add to my prep list is a walnut and lentil-based crumble. You can store it in a sealed container in your fridge for up to 5 days, and it effortlessly fits into dinners like tacos, hearty bolognese-like tomato sauces, burrito bowls, and (you bet) stuffed vegetables of all kinds. This savoury crumble is a total weeknight dinner saviour with lots of protein and flavour.
Here, we grill the pepper halves for a little smoky char, fill them with that spiced crumble, top them with a rustic olive and parsley salsa, and finish them all off with a vegan, cashew-based “parm.” You get all these mingling flavours of warm spice, citrus, sweetness, peppery parsley, and the salty olives. I guarantee that no one will miss the meat.
Grilled Mini Peppers with Spiced Walnut & Lentil Crumble
- ⅓ cup French lentils, rinsed
- ¼ cup pitted olives (green or black)
- ¼ cup flat leaf parsley, packed
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 cup walnut halves
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, plus extra
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- sea salt & ground black pepper, to taste
- 10-12 mini sweet bell peppers
- vegan “parm”
- If you don’t have a grill or grill pan, you can simply toss the pepper halves in oil, salt, and pepper, spread them out on a baking sheet, and roast in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until slightly softened.
- I get asked about my food processor a lot! I have the Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup model and I love it. Best food processor I’ve ever used.
- Place the lentils in a small saucepan and cover them by about 2 inches with water. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat with the lid on. Bring the lentils to a boil and then simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain lentils and set aside.
- On your cutting board, chop the olives, parsley, and lemon zest all together, forming a sort of rustic gremolata. Once the olives are nicely chopped, set the mixture aside in a bowl.
- In a food processor fitted with the “S” blade, combine the cooked lentils, walnuts, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, smoked paprika, chili powder, oregano, cumin, coriander, and lots of salt and pepper. Pulse until you have a coarsely ground mixture that holds together when pinched. It should be slightly paste-y with little chunks of walnut and lentils. Give the crumble a taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Heat a medium (preferably nonstick) skillet over medium heat. Scrape all of the walnut and lentil crumble into the pan. Break it up with a spatula. Cook the crumble, stirring constantly, until it’s slightly drier and a bit deeper in colour, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the walnut and lentil crumble from the heat and set aside.
- Cut the mini sweet bell peppers in half lengthwise. Remove the ribs and seeds and place them on a baking sheet. Drizzle the peppers with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat the peppers.
- Preheat the grill to medium-high. Once heated, place the mini peppers–cut side down–onto the grill. Cook until light char marks form on the underside, about 4 minutes. Flip the peppers over and cook for another 4 minutes or so. The peppers should be slightly softened, but still holding their shape. Remove the grilled peppers and place them back on the baking sheet.
- Arrange the grilled peppers–facing up–on your serving tray. Stuff each grilled pepper half with 2 tablespoons of the spiced walnut and lentil crumble. Top each stuffed pepper with a bit of the olive and parsley mixture. Finish the peppers with a sprinkle of vegan parmesan, if using. Serve warm or at room temperature.