For Christmas my parents got me a copy of the food magazine ‘The Vegetarian Times’ and I didn’t waste any time using it. The first meal I made once we got back to Savannah was this- quinoa-stuffed peppers and it’s a recipe definitely worth sharing!
One thing I really liked about this recipe is that I already had all of the ingredients in my kitchen…it’s a good one that uses basic staples (at least things I usually have on hand).
1 small onion, finely chopped (3/4 c)
1 Tbs ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-10oz box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1-15oz can diced tomatoes drained, liquid reserved
1-15oz can black beans drained and rinsed
3/4 c quinoa
1-2 large carrots, shredded
1 to 1 1/2c shredded cheese (pepper jack, mexican blend, cheddar and mozz)
2-3 large bell peppers, halved and ribs removed
Make sure to do your prep before you start cooking including thawing and squeezing dry the spinach, draining the tomatoes (but reserving the liquid), rinsing and draining the black beans and getting all of your veggies chopped and prepped.
In a large saucepan warm the oil. Add the garlic and onion and saute until soft (5 min). Add the cumin and saute 1 min.
Stir in spinach and tomatoes. Saute 5 or 6 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Add the black beans, carrots, quinoa, as well as 2 cups of water. Cover. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low, then simmer 20 minutes or until the quinoa is tender. At this point you can start your oven preheating to 350. I know most recipes tell you to do that at the start, but I always check to see if there is lots of cooking time later that will allow the oven to preheat so I am not wasting energy.
Never heard of quinoa? I hadn’t before a few years ago. I’ll have to do a blog solely on the glory of quinoa soon, but for now, check out this website for some initial information: QUINOA. Your home town grocer may not carry quinoa, but for those of you who shop at natural food stores (Brighter Days or Lori’s for you NYers), they definitely have it. Wegmans also carries quinoa, usually found in their organic section.
You’ll know the quinoa is tender once the ‘bulbs’ appear to have burst open and small squiggly pieces emerge (forgive my un-scientific description).
Once your quinoa is ready, stir in 3/4 of a cup of your shredded cheese. If you haven’t already done so, you can add some salt and pepper to taste.
In a baking dish (a small square one worked great for me), pour the leftover tomato liquid. Place your bell peppers into the dish and spoon as much filling into each one as you can (we’re going for heaping mounds here). Cover and leave them to bake in the oven 40-45 minutes.
Remove the cover and sprinkle the leftover cheese on top of each pepper. Bake again for another 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.
I modified this recipe a bit. If you’d like to make more than just two stuffed peppers (4 halves), you can use the original recipe amounts which included 2-15 oz cans of diced tomatoes (I used just one) and 3 large shredded carrots. The original recipe also included a stalk of chopped celery… as much as I love vegetables, I never have celery on hand and always omit it from recipes for two reasons- it adds no flavor, and it adds no nutrition.
To add some extra yummy flavor, I used a can of ‘fire-roasted’ diced tomatoes instead of just regular.
This is definitely a great main-dish for vegetarians, but it just a wholesome and tasty meal in general… don’t be scared away by the quinoa! Once you add it to your pantry you’ll be using it in many more dishes (or by itself) and I’ll be sure to do another blog about it later on. : )