So excited to be serving you a vegan stuffed pepper casserole this week! I thought about calling it a “bake” or something, but nope. ✨Casserole✨ is the vibe with this vegan dinner recipe. More vegan dinner inspo for you in my cookbook as well :)
I have made and I’ve been served stuffed peppers many times. I think it’s a classic plant-based staple entrée and I do respect it! Those self-contained meals look cute and they can hold a lot of satiating goodness. But I always find that the texture of the pepper itself is kind of off? Like it’s just too soft on the bottom, but also a bit too hard at the top and near the stem. It’s also challenging to season all of the pepper really well. And in my experience, they’re just messy and a touch sloppy to eat. It is possible that I’m just a messy eater!
But enter the stuffed pepper casserole. It has all the best bits of a savoury and satisfying stuffed pepper, but we layer everything in a baking dish and cover it with a spicy non-dairy (and nut-free!) “cheese” sauce. This is homey, heavenly deliciousness all the way through. Scoops of this casserole are topped with diced avocado and chopped cilantro for a dose of freshness.
The ingredients for this dish are fairly simple, relying heavily on dried spices. We sauté a bunch of peppers for the base and topping. In between those layers is a quinoa and black bean filling with tomatoes, corn, spices and vegetable stock.
You could have this stuffed pepper casserole assembled and in the oven in about one hour without distractions. I would serve this with a simple green salad or a vinaigrette-dressed cabbage slaw on the side. The casserole is quite hearty as-is!
More Wholesome Vegan Meals:
- Sweet Potato Cake Patties with Lemony Slaw
- Creamy Vegan Penne Pasta with Rosé Sauce
- White Wine Lentils with Mustard & Thyme
- Sticky Ginger Tempeh with Coconut Rice
- Zucchini Involtini with Almond “Ricotta”
Hope that you enjoy this cozy vegan main sometime soon! This is a great recipe to make and then enjoy leftovers throughout the week. This recipe also freezes really well. Just store portions in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let the portions thaw completely in the fridge overnight before reheating.
Vegan Stuffed Pepper Casserole with Spicy Sunflower “Cheese”
Spicy Sunflower “Cheese” Sauce
- ½ cup raw sunflower seeds, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained
- ½ cup water
- 1 ½ tablespoons nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- ⅛ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce of choice
- 2 teaspoon olive oil
- sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 red bell peppers, cored and sliced into strips (about 5 cups sliced peppers total)
- sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili powder (I used ancho)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- ¾ cup quinoa, rinsed
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- ½ cup tomato sauce OR salsa (not pico de gallo-style salsa! Salsa with cooked tomato is ideal)
- ripe diced avocado, for serving
- chopped cilantro, for serving
- toasted pumpkin seeds, for serving
- I make a sunflower seed “cheese” sauce to top this, but if you have a trusted brand of shredded vegan cheese, just go ahead and sprinkle that on top!
- You could use raw and soaked cashews, macadamia nuts, sliced almonds, or even pine nuts in place of the sunflower seeds in the “cheese” sauce.
- Corn is in season here, so I used fresh kernels. Frozen ones would work just as well.
- Any colour of bell pepper works here. A mix of sliced poblano and bell peppers would also be delicious!
- Feel free to sauté a couple chopped up vegan sausages with the onions if you’re looking for a more meaty vibe!
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Set out a 7x10x2-inch (or an 8x11x2-inch) dish.
- Make the sunflower “cheese” sauce. In an upright, high speed blender, combine the drained sunflower seeds, water, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, paprika, coriander, turmeric, lime juice, hot sauce, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Blend the sauce until completely smooth and silky. Check the sauce for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Set aside.
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Pour in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and swirl it around. Add all of the sliced peppers into the skillet at once. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Stir the peppers periodically until they are slightly softened, about 7-8 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the sliced bell peppers to a large bowl or plate.
- Wipe out the skillet and return it to the stove over medium heat. Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet and swirl it around.
- Add the onions to the skillet and sauté until very soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika, and chili powder to the skillet and stir until spices are very fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then, add the tomato paste. Stir and cook out the tomato paste until it darkens in colour, about 30 seconds. Add the cherry tomatoes, corn kernels, and black beans to the skillet, and sauté for another 3 minutes, or until the cherry tomatoes start to break down a bit. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
- Add the quinoa to the skillet and stir to coat in the seasoning. Pour in the vegetable stock and give everything a stir. Bring the heat up to high and let the mixture boil for a minute or so. Then, lower the heat to a simmer, partially cover the skillet with a lid, and cook until almost all of the stock is absorbed and the little tails on the quinoa have started to pop out, about 15 minutes. The mixture should still be slightly wet, but definitely not fluid. If it is fluid, continue to simmer, uncovered, until excess liquid is absorbed. Once done, Remove the quinoa and black bean mixture from the heat. Stir in the lime juice.
- Assemble the casserole. Spread the tomato sauce/salsa evenly across the bottom of your baking dish. Arrange ½ of the sautéed bell peppers on top of the salsa. Transfer all of the quinoa mixture on top of the bell peppers. Spread the quinoa mixture out evenly with a spatula. Pour all of the sunflower “cheese” sauce evenly over the top and spread it out over the surface. Top the casserole with the remaining sautéed bell peppers.
- Cover the casserole loosely with foil or an inverted baking dish. Slide the casserole into the oven and bake until totally heated through, about 25 minutes, removing the cover for the last 10 minutes. Switch the oven to broil and broil the top of the casserole for 2 minutes or so, or until the edges of the peppers are golden and there's slight browning on the sunflower "cheese." Definitely keep your eye on it the whole time during this stage! Once done, remove the casserole from the oven.
- Serve the casserole warm with diced ripe avocado, chopped fresh cilantro, toasted pumpkin seeds, and dabs of hot sauce if you like.