During my fourteen years of being sans meat, I’ve found that when you ask vegetarians “Why aren’t you a vegan?” their response is either “too expensive” or “cheese.” In order to help my comrades-in-vegetables out, I’m scouring the internet for the cheesiest meat-free recipes around. Join me on my journey to recreate the best, and learn the history of our favorite cheese while we’re at it.
Missed last week’s recipe? Check out the extremely easy-to-make Cheesecake Sopapillas here.
Goat’s milk cheese was one of the first curds to be discovered. Sometime around the year 7,000 BCE, a roaming caveman created the initial version of this creamy cheese. (Considering that nomads didn’t have access to pen and paper, this a theory and up to speculation.) The cheese also has a place in Greek mythology: Aristaeus, the god of cheesemaking and shepherds, was credited as its creator. No matter who prepared it initially, goat cheese is super old—the cyclops was even chowing down on it in The Odyssey.
The kind of fresh goat cheese, or chèvre, that we eat today originated in France. Thanks to the Umayyad Caliphate armies leaving their goats behind in the country after a failed expansion, French farmers in the area started to tend to the animals. And the rest is history.
Chèvre is not only delicious but is wonderful for the folks who get a belly-ache post cow’s milk—goat’s milk tends to feel lighter in the stomach because its smaller fat globules break down more easily in the gut. It’s also actually good for you. Just one ounce of goat cheese provides 5 grams of protein, 3 percent of the recommended iron intake, and 40 mg of calcium. Essentially, the following recipe is not going to ruin the beach-body-diet you’ve been on.
Goat cheese is one of those foods that’s enjoyable stuffed in almost anything. Google “Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppers,” and you’ll get 2,470,000 results. To save you hours of time, I’ve tested and tried a few, finding the best (and easiest) one around. This one is based off of a version from Aggie’s Kitchen. Most versions don’t include pesto, but her addition makes this appetizer a little sweeter.
If you’re a foodie and have a cabinet full of spices, here’s a different style with Middle Eastern flare: Aleppo pepper and sumac on piquillo peppers give the recipe a twist.
Pesto and Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppers
- 1 bag mini bell peppers
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 4 ounces plain spreadable goat cheese
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 to 3 tablespoons pesto
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease non-stick cookie sheet with cooking spray.
- Wash peppers, cut tops off, extract seeds, and cut each pepper in half. Place peppers in a large bowl, topping with pesto, balsamic vinegar, and oil. Mix thoroughly.
- Evenly lay peppers onto cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove peppers from oven and top each with a dollop of goat cheese. Bake for another 5-10 minutes ,until cheese is melted and peppers look crisp on edges.
- Allow to cool for 5 minutes, and serve as an appetizer.