Polenta Stuffed Sweet Peppers with Black Bean Salsa

I love the idea of stuffing things for vegetarian meals. It's a little more exciting than a casserole, but pretty much the same thing. Just prettier. Topping things with colorful salsa doesn't hurt either.

Anyone know what the skinny one is? It's medium hot, but I don't know the name!
The day I made these peppers, I had been to the farm to buy vegetables. They had a whole table of peppers in all shapes, colors and sizes that day. I just had to make something with them, heartburn or no. I guess it took me long enough to post the recipe, because it's now December and the farm stand has closed for the winter! Guess I'll be replacing farm-stand runs with wine shop sprees. I've certainly been hitting the bakery pretty hard too. I hate winter.

Developing a good pepper recipe requires a beer in hand at all times. 
Anyways, these stuffed peppers came out pretty awesome. Next time you see some beautiful peppers, grab a few and get some color, crunch and bonus vitamins and minerals into your dreary winter life. They're packed with Vitamins A, C, K and B-6. Good stuff.

Polenta Stuffed Sweet Peppers with Black Bean Salsa
1 hour

3 servings, as a meal. 6 servings, as a side dish

For Peppers:
3 medium sweet peppers, halved lengthwise, seeds and ribs removed
2 T olive oil

1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 tsp garlic, minced
½ C onion, minced
½ tsp dried oregano
½ C instant quick cook polenta
1 C vegetable stock (or no-chicken stock)
½ C heavy cream
1-1/2 C shredded sharp cheddar
½ C shredded Mexican blend cheese (or more cheddar, jack or pepper jack)
¾ C fresh corn
¼ C black beans (canned, rinsed)
¼ C cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper

For Salsa:
½ tsp garlic, minced
2 T onion, minced
1 C black beans (canned, rinsed)
¼ C cilantro, chopped
½ C fresh tomatoes, chopped
½ C canned crushed tomatoes
1 T lime juice
1/8 tsp fresh chili pepper, jalepeno or cayenne, very finely chopped (to taste, depending on how hot)
½ tsp cumin

1. Heat oven to 425F. Rub peppers, inside and out, with olive oil. Lay cut side up in a baking dish. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Roast 20 minutes.

Peppers ready to pre-roast
2. In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, add butter and olive oil. Sauté onions 3 minutes, add garlic and cook 1 minute.

3. Have all ingredients ready near the stovetop to add them quickly. Add stock and milk and bring just barely to a boil.  Using a wire whisk, add polenta slowly while stirring, continuing to stir 1 minute. Working quickly, keep whisking, and add cheese until melted. Still whisking, add corn, beans and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper and keep whisking another 3 minutes.

4. Stuff polenta mixture into the peppers and roast at 425F for 20 minutes. Extra polenta can be baked in ramekins or muffin tins.

5. Prepare salsa by combining all the ingredients in a bowl. Season to taste with lime juice, cumin, and salt, or more hot peppers if desired.

6. Serve each pepper topped with salsa.


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