October 29, 2012

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

I came across this recipe on Pinterest, and it looked yummy, so I filed it away.  But tonight I decided to make something with quinoa for dinner.  And since my husband kindly requested that I make something other than my usual quinoa go-to dish, I pulled this one out.  It took a chunk of time to make, but it was well worth it.  And apparently they freeze well, so you can make a bunch when peppers go on sale (which is now in my neck of the woods) and freeze them for quick dinners or easy lunches.  My husband loved it as is, but I thought it could use a little kick--maybe some cayenne pepper or a can of diced green chiles?  If anyone out there gives that a try, I'd love to hear the results.  Let's move on to the recipe, shall we?

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Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
(adapted from Vegetarian Times)  

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup onion, minced (roughly one medium onion)
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 Tbsp cumin
10 ounces spinach (you can use a container of frozen spinach too, as long as you thaw and drain it first)
2 cans (15 oz) diced tomatoes, drained with the liquid reserved
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups shredded carrot (roughly 3 large carrots)
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or pepper jack), divided
4 large red or orange bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise with the ribs removed

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Throw in the onion and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until just tender.  Add the garlic salt and cumin, and saute for another minute or so to let those flavors start to blend.  
2. Throw in the spinach (as much as you can fit in the pot at a time) and stir it until the spinach wilts.  When there's room again, throw in the rest of the spinach.  If you're using frozen spinach, no need to wait and stir.  Just move right on ahead.  Stir in the tomatoes (which you remembered to drain, right?  And you remembered to reserve the liquid, right?).  Cook and stir until almost all of the liquid has evaporated.  
3. Add the beans, carrot, quinoa, and water.  Cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low.  Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender.  Stir in 1/4 cup of the cheese.
4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Remember that reserved tomato liquid?  Pour it into a baking dish (a 9x13 pan works great).  Place the peppers in the dish cut sides up, so they're like little pepper boats amongst the tomato liquid.  Fill each pepper with about 3/4 cup quinoa mixture.  Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for an hour.  
5. Uncover the dish, sprinkle on the remaining 1/4 cup cheese, and continue baking (uncovered) for 10-15 minutes.  When the cheese is just starting to brown, remove the peppers from the oven and let them sit for about five minutes while you gather the family around and say prayers.
6. Enjoy your vegetable goodness...because it won't even seem like you're eating vegetables.  It will just be plain old goodness.

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