Stuffed Veggies

We have all heard about the virtues of eating vegetables. Veggies are diced and sliced, grated and mashed, stir-fried and curried, transformed into soups and salads.
But my favorite way of enjoying veggie is stuffing it. There is an unmistakable charm about stuffed vegetables. After all, who can resist the surprise inside factor of dipping fork into center of a stuffed vegetable. Stuffing a vegetable elevates it to a main entrée status. These recipes can be assembled ahead of time and popped into the oven just before you are ready to eat.

Stuffed vegetables appeal to us on an additional level. They speak to our love of individual servings, where each diner gets their own little package rather than pulling it from a common trough.

Stuffed vegetables are a beautiful way to showcase an array of vegetables and prepare them for special occasions. There seems to be a deep-rooted human love of food stuffed into other food; every culture has some variant. Perhaps it's the idea of food getting extra flavor from its edible "pot". Perhaps it's just a fascination with layers. There is something immensely satisfying about choosing the perfect vegetable, filling it gently with some spicy goodness and cooking it to perfection.

Stuffed Tomatoes

6 tomatoes
Stuffing :
1 onion
1 cup cauliflower
½ cup peas
½ cup corn
1 teaspoon chilies chopped finely
1 tablespoon basil leaves
1/2 cup cheese
½ cup bread crumbs
olive oil
lime juice
¼ teaspoon black pepper
salt and sugar
½ cup cheese for garnish

Preheat oven at 325 degrees. Cut tops of tomato and remove the pulp with a spoon. Keep aside. Mix in all ingredients well and stuff in the tomato. Top with cheese and bake it in the oven for 15 minutes. Serve with garlic bread

Hema's Hints:

Stuffed Tomato can be served for brunch or elegant dinner parties

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Stuffed Bell pepper

A wonderful combination of tangy taste and crunchy texture, bell peppers are the Christmas ornaments of the vegetable world with their beautifully shaped glossy exterior that come in a wide array of vivid colors ranging from green, red, yellow, orange, purple, brown to black. Although bell peppers are available throughout the year, they are most abundant and tasty during the months of August and September. This entrée is a meal in itself with proteins, complex carbohydrates and calcium and vegetable.

4 bell pepper
1 cup mashed potato
1 cup garbanzo beans
1 cup yogurt
1 teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 garlic cloves (diced)
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt ( or as per taste)
1 tablespoon cilantro
bread crumbs and cheese to garnish

In a bowl mix mashed potato, garbanzo beans and yogurt.

In a small fry pan, heat oil. Add garlic and sauté it till it turns golden brown, Add cumin seeds and let it sizzle. Remove from heat and add black pepper in hot oil. Add this spice infused oil to potato garbanzo mix. Stir in salt and cilantro. Garnish with bread crumbs and cheese. Bake it in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Hema's Hints:

Serve with a bowl of soup to make a light dinner.

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Stuffed vegetable Indian style

This is very authentic Indian recipe that I enjoyed as a child called as Yengai (pronounced as ye-n-ga-yee). Yengai calls for mini eggplants that are stuffed with nuts and spices and cooked on low heat . Mini bell peppers and red potatoes are an excellent addition for this recipe.

6 mini eggplants
6 red potatoes ( semi baked)
6 mini sweet bell pepper
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion
4-5 garlic cloves
15 almonds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 teaspoon red chili powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
¼ cup yogurt
¼ cup cilantro
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt (or as per taste)

In a blender make a coarse powder with almonds, sesame seeds, garlic, red chili powder, turmeric and salt. Keep aside in a bowl. Add chopped onions, cilantro, yogurt, brown sugar and garam masala. Mix well.

Make a cut in eggplant, potato and bell pepper. Add stuffing into the slits. In a pan drizzle oil at the bottom. Lay all the stuffed vegetables. Add the leftover filling with ½ cup water and cover pan. Simmer for 20 minutes till vegetables are well cooked.

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