From the May 2015 issue

Veggie-Stuffed Peppers from The Clean Plate in Shelby Township

“I can’t believe my child likes the green smoothie!” That’s a typical response Amber Poupore hears at The Clean Plate in Shelby Township. Located near busy Hall Road in Macomb County where chain restaurants and big box retailers are the norm, her restaurant stands apart with its emphasis on vegetarian dishes prepared quickly, allowing families to eat fast in-house or on the go.

The kids menu includes mac ‘n’ cheese, grilled cheese or cheese quesadillas – all with a side of steamed broccoli, not French fries. “I don’t try to push eating vegetarian. My goal is to help people eat clean,” explains Poupore, who works hard to get the freshest organic ingredients for specialties like sloppy Joes made with a blend of lentils, beans, tomatoes and spices. Ditto the A.B.L.T, which stands for avocado, shiitake bacon, lettuce and tomato (plus garlic aioli).

Poupore was inspired to bring The Clean Plate to Shelby Township in 2013 after the success of her other venture, the Cacao Tree Cafe in Royal Oak, which has served organic smoothies, specialty juices, sandwiches and other bistro-type items since 2010.

But Poupore believes eating greens for kids is important – whether it’s during a visit to TCP or at home. The former Detroit Waldorf School teacher offers this advice: “Try to encourage your kids to help with the meal preparation as much as possible. If they help make the meal, they’re more likely to eat it.” For the recipe here, for example, Poupore suggests parents let the kids stuff the peppers.

Ingredients

  • Rice cooker
  • 6 whole bell peppers, any color
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 large zucchini, finely diced
  • 1 cup short grain brown rice
  • 2 cups petite French lentils
  • 4 Tbsp. garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups of your favorite beans
  • 2 cans large chopped tomato (28 ounces) and 1 small (12 ounce)
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp. dried basil
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 bay leafs
  • Mineral sea salt

Directions

  1. Rice: Cook rice in a rice cooker. Thoroughly rinse rice. Allow to completely drain. Add almost 2 cups water and 1/4 tsp. salt. Cook.
  2. Tomato basil sauce: Empty cans of tomato and paste into large saucepot. Add 1 Tbsp. salt and cook about 25 minutes. Add 2 Tbsp. fresh garlic, Italian seasoning and dried basil; cook an additional 15 minutes. Add balsamic and cook 10 minutes. Turn off heat and add fresh basil and black pepper if you like.
  3. Lentils: Thoroughly rinse lentils. Cover with water in pot and add 2 tsp. salt with bay leaves. Cook about 40 minutes. Drain from excess stock. Add water while cooking if needed.
  4. Filling: Chop onion and sauté with 2 Tbsp. fresh garlic and olive oil for 5 minutes on high (do not cook fully). Chop zucchini and add to sauté pan and cook an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Pepper prep: Slice tops off peppers and carefully remove seeds and veins.
  6. Mix in bowl: Onion/garlic, fresh zucchini, beans/tempeh, lentils, rice and tomato sauce.
  7. Stuff: Fill the peppers ensuring filling gets to the bottoms. Add surplus filling to the surrounding area and fill bottom of the pan. Cover with foil. Bake in oven 1 to 1 1/2 hours at 400 F until peppers are cooked to your preference.

The Clean Plate

This spot offers fresh, fast vegetarian dining that appeals to parents and kids alike. Visit the Facebook page for daily specials on everything from soup to cupcakes!

  • Address: 45629 Hayes Road, Shelby Township
  • Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday
  • Phone: 586-580-3293

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