A crowd-pleasing summer appetizer for your cookout or Cinco de Mayo party, mini sweet bell peppers are stuffed with creamy, gently spicy nacho cheese. Vegan and gluten-free, everyone will crave this tasty snack!
1cupcauliflower rice(measure after ricing; can also use frozen)
1small clove garlic, minced
1tablespoonvegan cream cheese*
1/3cupsmooth salsa(use your favorite**)
3tablespoonsnutritional yeast flakes
3tablespoonschopped pickled jalapenos
for the peppers
1package mini bell peppers(about 1 pound, 14-16 peppers, washed, stems on)
3tablespoonsfinely crushed tortilla strips
1tablespoonminced fresh cilantro leaves
prepare the queso/nacho cheese:
Heat the oil in a small pot over medium until shimmering. Add the cauliflower rice and garlic and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the three spices over the cauliflower, plus a pinch of salt, and stir until well coated. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the cream cheese until melted and combined into the cauliflower rice.
In a high-speed blender***, add the cashews, salsa, nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, and 1/4 cup of water. Blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides, if necessary, and add the cauliflower rice, plus 2 more tablespoons of water. Blend again. Keep an eye on the mixture, and add more water (in 1 tablespoon increments) just until the mixture is smooth, creamy, and spoonable. Taste, and add more salt by the pinch as necessary. Mix the chopped jalapeños into the sauce. Set aside (queso sauce can be made a day ahead and stored in the fridge).
for the peppers:
Turn on the broiler to High, arrange the top rack 6" away from the elements, and line a baking sheet with parchment or a broiler-safe silicon mat.
Take the peppers and do a "roll test": determine the flat side of each paper by giving it a short roll on the counter. Where it settles will be the "down" side of the pepper. Cut away a narrow section away from the "up" side of the pepper, in front of the stem, to create a little boat that sits flat (use the pepper strips for another purpose). Cut out or pinch out the small seed head inside, and peel away any large ribs.
Arrange the peppers cut side down on the prepared baking sheet and spray very lightly with oil. Place the baking sheet under the broiler and cook until the peppers begin to raise white blisters. Avoid charring, if possible, as it might soften the peppers a little too much.
Remove from oven, flip the peppers cut side up, and let cool a little.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Spoon the queso sauce into the pepper boats, pressing cheese into corners and pockets. Fill to the level of the sides of each pepper (you'll have leftover cheese sauce).
Bake for 5 to 8 minutes - the cheese will begin to look dry on the top and perhaps brown just a little.
Remove from oven, and sprinkle lots of the crushed tortillas over the cheese, along with some of the cilantro. Serve immediately.
*You can use either vegan cream cheese or one of the lovely spreadable flavored nut cheeses that are available from producers like Kite Hill. For the photos in this recipe, I used an herb and garlic blend spreadable nut cheese.**The liquids from the salsa will help create a creamy texture for the nacho cheese. If using a chunky style salsa, it will also work, but you might need more liquids as you process the cheese sauce.***A high-speed blender is definitely recommended for this recipe, as it's a very thick cheese sauce. I used my Nutribullet, which was sufficient, but only just so. I have not tried this recipe in a food processor.
Serving: 3pepper halves | Calories: 210kcal
Vegan Queso Stuffed Mini Peppers was originally published on https://soupaddict.com/vegan-queso-stuffed-mini-peppers/