Gary Deng, MD, PhD is the Medical Director of Integrative Medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. In his long-awaited new book, The Wellness Principles: Cooking for a Healthy Life, Dr. Deng unpacks core principles from his world-renowned career into 100 everyday recipes you’ll actually use. As you cook your way through the book, you’ll pick up on important tenets from traditional and holistic medical philosophies.
We’ll be sharing a few The Wellness Principles book recipe recipes (now in pre-sales) all month long. The beautiful cover alone is hard to resist and we’re certain it is destined to become a modern classic. Here is Dr. Deng’s vegetarian take on a dinnertime recipe we all adore…
Peruvian Stuffed Bell Peppers
I learned how to make this signature regional dish in a cooking class while visiting Arequipa, Peru. We used the very spicy ají rocoto — a largish lantern-shaped chili that is much hotter than a jalapeño. Here, I replace it with red bell pepper, which has a similar shape, is widely available, and not as challenging to eat. Instead of the traditional ground meat, I use hard-boiled eggs, lentils, and yogurt to give this vegetarian dish savory flavors.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
+ 2 tablespoons olive oil
+ ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
+ ½ teaspoon caraway seeds
+ ½ medium onion, chopped
+ 2 cloves garlic, minced
+ 1 cup (200 g) green or brown lentils, rinsed
+ ¼–½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, depending on your taste for heat
+ 2 cups (16 fl oz/475 ml) hot water
+ 4 large red bell peppers
+ 2 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, and coarsely chopped
+ ¼ cup (70 g) plain Greek yogurt
+ 1 large plum tomato, chopped
+ ¼ cup (25 g) grated Manchego cheese, or a vegetarian alternative
+ Kosher (flaked) salt
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C/GasMark 5).
2. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the fennel and caraway seeds and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the onion and garlic and sweat over low heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
3. Increase the heat to high. Add the lentils and cayenne and let cook, undisturbed, for 2 minutes to fry the lentils a little. Stir once and cook for another 2 minutes, then add the hot water, cover, and simmer over low heat until the lentils are tender but not falling apart, about 20 minutes.
4. Slice off the top .5 inch (1.25 cm) of the bell peppers and set aside. Remove the seeds from the peppers.
5. Add the eggs, yogurt, and tomato to the lentils and mix well. Season with salt to taste. Stuff the mixture into the peppers, sprinkle with the Manchego, and set the lids on top.
6. Set the peppers in a baking dish that fits them snugly. Transfer to the oven and bake until the peppers are tender, 30–35 minutes.
Note: If you’d like the filling to have a crispy top, bake the pepper tops alongside the stuffed peppers, rather than on top.
Pairs well with a grain dish and another vegetable or salad dish for a complete meal.
© 2022 Phaidon Press Limited. Photography: Luke Albert. Reproduced by permission of Phaidon. All rights reserved.