Sausage Stuffed Jalapenos - Regular and Vegetarian Versions

My BFF and friends have become addicted to sausage stuffed jalapenos. Seriously, every time I've been over there during the last three months I've eaten some. BFF can easily buy out a jalapeno farmer's crop. I won't complain though. They are damn good.

Normally the sausage stuffed jalapenos are stuffed with a pork sausage. Thank goodness BFF realized some changes needed to be made and so she at least switched to turkey sausage and cut down on some of the cheese. She likes to use smoked gouda versus the parmesan so often called for in the recipes.

I wanted to see if I could make it even healthier and so I made a vegetarian version using tempeh. If you want to go completely paleo, I would mix in a whipped raw egg to hold the tempeh together as you stuff the jalapenos.

When I told BFF that I was making a vegetarian version she tipped up her nose. BFF is a picky eater - no seafood, no mushrooms, no meat other than pork, beef, and chicken. I explained to her that it's the jalapenos and the cheese that are the most important elements, not the sausage. In fact, I don't notice a "meat" difference when I use the tempeh. But she will have none of that.

I'm supplying you with the original version found all over the internet and then my vegetarian version. You can choose which way you wish to go. I do use cheese in my vegetarian version. I also wanted some more flavor since I wasn't using an Italian sausage like BFF does, so I added some vegetables and spices.

If you have ever had the problem of cutting jalapenos and then burning your eye when you touch it due to the jalapeno juice, then be sure to watch the video to see how I avoid it. It also shows you how to keep your jalapenos from being too hot taste-wise.

Regular stuffing:

    1 pound ground pork sausage
    1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
    1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Place sausage in a skillet over medium heat, and cook until evenly brown. Be sure to break it up as much as possible. Drain the grease.
In a bowl, mix the sausage, cream cheese, and Parmesan cheese.

Vegetarian stuffing:

1 t olive oil
1 pkg of ground tempeh. I use Smart Grounds.
1/4 c minced onion
1/4 c minced red/green bell peppers (optional)
1/2 t Italian seasoning
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 c shredded cheese of choice (I used Monterey Jack)

Place a skillet on medium heat and add olive oil. When it is hot, add the onion and bell pepper and saute until tender. Add tempeh and Italian seasoning. Cook until heated through. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add cheeses. Mix thoroughly.

Stuffing and cooking the jalapenos

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Slice the stem end off of the jalapenos. Slice them in half lengthwise and remove seeds and membranes (see video for a great technique). 
Take a spoonful of the stuffing mixture and press together in your hands so it will hold together and then press into the half of the jalapeno.
Repeat for all of the jalapeno halves, placing them on a baking sheet, mixture facing up.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until jalapenos are tender.