So this past Thursday, I wanted to make a side dish for dinner that was hearty, filling, nutritious and under 200 calories. Both James and I had late evening runs planned so I didn't want anything too heavy or overpowering, but more "stick to your ribs" kind of food. I also wanted to avoid dairy as to keep it easily digestible. Final product - red bell peppers stuffed with faro, summer squash, mushrooms, vine ripened tomatoes, shallots and nutritional yeast.
For those unfamiliar with nutritional yeast, it's actually a pretty cool product. It comes in a large spice shaker, looks like cream colored flakes and has a distinctively savory aroma to it. Vegans use it as a substitute for cheese because it's high in protein and gives a "cheese-like" nuttiness when added to food. It gets a bad rap for being an extreme health food, but give it a shot sometime. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Set your oven to 400 degrees. Clean your pepper by removing the stem and seeds and slicing it in half lengthwise. Place the pepper in the oven while it preheats and you prep the other ingredients. This will start to soften it without overcooking. Prepare your faro using 3:1 liquid to grain. I used 3/4 cups of chicken stock combined with 1/4 cup white wine to 1/3 cup far. Season the water with salt, pepper and granulated garlic prior to adding the grains.
In a skillet, saute 1 tablespoon olive oil with your finely diced shallots, minced garlic, diced tomato, summer squash and mushrooms (adding the vegetables in that order). Season with salt, pepper, paprika and crushed red pepper flakes. Once your vegetables are cooked nearly through (but still firm), add 1 1/2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast and combine the mixture well.
Once the faro has finished cooking, drain any excess liquid off and add your vegetables. Combine well and fill your bell peppers. To make 2 servings, I used 1/2 of a small summer squash, 4 button mushrooms, 1 medium sized tomato and 1/2 of a shallot.
Bake the peppers at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes to finish roasting the pepper and infuse the flavors. We paired with with a spice rubbed grilled chicken breast, but it works well with most proteins. They clocked in at 200 calories, 10 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber each.
Quick plug for a product I love - my mother gave me my Pampered Chef toaster oven-sized stoneware pan back when I was in college. You know the little metal pan that comes with your toaster oven and gets warped in like a week? Yeah, it sucks. The stoneware version is fantastic - it distributes heat and cooks food evenly and like cast iron, it gets better the longer you use it. They make larger versions which are great as well, I just love the convenience of this size, especially when I'm just cooking for the two of us.