Rinse and drain the lentils, then place into a saucepan, and add enough cold water to cover. Bring to the boil, and then reduce to a low-medium heat, and cook for around 20 minutes, until they begin to soften. You don’t want to fully cook them as they will finish cooking inside the peppers.
Once cooked, drain, and rinse under cold, running water.
Make the gravy:
While the lentils are cooking, mix the tomato purée, Vegeta, savory, and rosemary with the vegetable stock, and set aside.
Gently fry the onion in the oil in a large skillet, until it starts to become translucent.
Add the garlic, and continue to cook for a couple of minutes, until the raw smell has gone.
Mix in the flour, and cook for another minute or so, stirring all the time.
Stir in the stock, a little at a time, and keep stirring as the gravy comes to the boil, and has thickened.
Taste, and season, then turn the heat off, and set aside while you prepare the peppers.
Prepare and stuff the peppers:
Cut off the top of each pepper, being careful not to break them as it they will be used as lids once the peppers have been stuffed. Remove the pith and the seeds from each pepper. Set aside.
Firmly pack the stuffing into each pepper, until it’s a couple of centimetres from the top. Don’t overfill or the peppers will split, due to the rice expanding as it cooks.
Place the peppers into a saucepan or stockpot which is just large enough to fit them in while standing upright. If the pan is too large, they’ll fall over, and the filling will come out, so it’s better to use a pan which gives a snug fit, rather than too much room. Don’t put the tops on yet.
Carefully pour the sauce over and around the peppers, the put a top onto each pepper.
Add the celery, carrot, and bay leaf to the pan, cover with a tightly-fitting lid, and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat to low, and gently simmer for around 2 hours.
Once the peppers are cooked, turn off the heat, uncover, and allow to rest in the pan for 10-15 minutes.
Serve with a pile of mashed potatoes, with the gravy poured over the top of both the peppers and the mash. Or serve with thick wedges of fresh bread.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the 'fridge for up to two weeks.
Firm lentils, such as green, brown, Puy, or urad dal, work best in this recipe – red ones have a tendency to go mushy.
If you can’t get savory, you can use thyme or rosemary instead.
Unlike the lentils, the rice does not need to be pre-cooked - it will cook perfectly in the gravy once it's been used to stuff the peppers.
Instead of using lentils, you can use veggie mince (as in the lead image), barley, or some ground-up seitan sausages or burgers. I also sometimes add mushrooms and/or carrots too.
This was originally published in 2015 but has now been updated with an improved recipe.