“Ricotta” and Risotto Stuffed Banana Peppers with Basil Lime Sauce

Our friendly next door neighbors came by over the weekend and dropped off a whole bag of banana peppers. I assumed they must know that my brother adds hot sauce or chillies to everything he eats, but I knew there was no way we would eat all 10 of the banana peppers by adding them here and there to various dishes. I needed to make something WITH the peppers if we didn’t want to let them go to waste.

I whipped out my Clean Eating 2 cookbook by Clean Eating Magazine and was happy to spot a recipe for Stuffed Banana Peppers. I was also stoked to use tofu in place of ricotta, but made note not to mention the “tofu thing” to my dad because he would’ve written the recipe off immediately.

I’ve made a few changes to the original recipe since I found there to be way too much risotto. I will say though that the risotto on its own is delicious which means that if you have some non-spicy eaters to feed, they’ll still be happy campers with this one.

I also would recommend making the risotto in advance because it is quite time-intensive. If you want to serve these as an appetizer at a party, it would be quite easy to stuff your peppers 15 minutes in advance to when you want to serve them. Whether you serve them as an app or a side dish to your main meal, I’m sure you’ll find them delicious… but I’ve warned you -they pack some heat!

“Ricotta” and Risotto Stuffed Banana Peppers Recipe

6 medium to large hot Italian banana peppers (you can also use milder Hungarian wax peppers instead for less heat).
6 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 Tbsp olive oil

Risotto Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 1/2 cups of brown rice
1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth

Tofu Ricotta Ingredients:

8 oz firm tofu
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp plum vinegar or raspberry vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Basil Lime Sauce Ingredients:

2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp Sucanat
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 cup fresh basil chopped

Instructions:

1. Prepare the risotto by heating oil in a large pot on medium. Add onion and saute until it is translucent (5-7 minutes). Meanwhile in a separate pot, bring 3 cups of water to simmer.

2. Add rice to the onion and stir with a wooden spoon until heated but not browned. Pour in the vegetable broth and stir until the liquid has been absorbed. Add 1 ladle of water from the heated water simmering and stir until the water has been absorbed. Add another ladle of water and stir again. Continue to add the water, ladle by ladle, until all the water is gone. Be sure to only add a ladle of water once the water added before has been absorbed. Once all water has been added and risotto is tender but still semi-firm to bite, remove from the heat. Let stand and stir frequently for 5 minutes. The mixture will thicken.

3. Transfer the risotto to a container and let cool for 1 hour. You can store it covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days if you wish to make it in advance.

4. Set the oven to 400 F. To prepare the peppers, cut a slit across the top of the pepper without cutting the entire top off (I was only successful in doing this with one pepper). Cut a slit lengthwise down the pepper. Clean all the seeds out of the pepper using a small spoon.

5. To make the Tofu Ricotta, mash the tofu with your hands until crumbly. Add the garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, yeast flakes, basil, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix well until it is the consistency of ricotta cheese.

6. In a large bowl combine risotto, Tofu Ricotta and mozzarella. Stuff the peppers with the mixture without over-stuffing the peppers. They will not cook evenly if they are over-stuffed.

7. Heat oil in large skillet on medium high-heat. Saute the stuffed peppers until browned on the bottom for about 3 minutes. Remove the peppers from the skillet and place on a baking sheet. Bake them in the oven for 10 minutes at 400 F.

8. While they bake, prepare the Basil Lime Sauce. Place a skillet on medium-high heat and add broth, garlic, Sucanat and lime juice. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and add the chopped basil when mixture has cooled slightly.

Finally arrange the peppers on a plate and drizzle the sauce over top. Serve immediately.

WARNING: If you don’t like your food hot and spicy, stick to eating the risotto stuffing because the banana peppers could have you running to the nearest sink in record time!

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