Culture

Quinoa and Veggie-Stuffed Bell Peppers with a Kick (Recipe)

In this series of recipes, I am highlighting the wonderful produce that is in-season in the summer. This week, I couldn’t resist focusing on delicious bell peppers. You can use any color that you’d like – but keep in mind that the red ones are slightly sweeter than the green. I like to change it up and make one of every color.

Since sweet bell peppers are on the Dirty Dozen list (the Environmental Working Group’s list of produce with the highest pesticide loads), that means that they are more likely to have a high pesticide content. So when I cook with bell peppers, I always buy organic. Same goes for the tomato, baby spinach and jalapeno used in this recipe.

The stuffing for the peppers in this dish is an easy-to-make quinoa mixture. If you want to re-purpose the recipe, the quinoa makes a delicious side to chicken or shrimp—so if you don’t have bell peppers, it’s not a problem!

Also, the recipe calls for jalapenos and Monterey Jack cheese to give it a little kick. It’s not overwhelmingly spicy by any means, but if you prefer a milder taste, feel free to substitute cheddar for the cheese, and take out the jalapeno completely. (Keep in mind that removing seeds from jalapenos cuts back on their level of heat. So if you want an even spicier option, keep a few of those seeds in there!)

I have found that this dish works great as a side (we ate ours with cheeseburgers topped with Monterey Jack cheese), but it can work just as well as an appetizer or small lunch. They’re deceptively easy to make, so if you prepare them for guests, you’re bound to get a lot of compliments for very little effort!

(Makes 3 large peppers, or 4 slightly smaller ones)

Ingredients:

  • 3 large bell peppers (or 4 slightly smaller ones), with tops, seeds, and spines carefully removed
  • 1 cup of uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups of chicken stock (use vegetable stock to make the dish vegetarian)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 large jalapeno, finely chopped with seeds removed
  • 1 large tomato, cut into ½ inch chunks
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and more for brushing and topping later
  • ½ cup of Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • ½ avocado, cut into slices
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to Roast at 375 degrees.
  • Cook quinoa according to package instructions, using stock instead of water. Season with a pinch of salt, and fluff with fork. Set aside.

Quinoa

  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil.
  • When oil is hot, but not smoking, add the shallot, garlic and jalapeno.

Onions and peppers

  • Cook for about a minute until the shallot is translucent.
  • Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt, and mix together, about a minute.

Onions and tomatoes

  • Add the spinach and another pinch of salt. Toss all ingredients together until spinach is wilted.

Spinach added to tomatoes

  • Add 2 cups of cooked quinoa to the pan. Season with ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Mix everything together and remove from heat.

Quinoa added to veggies

  • Lightly brush the insides and outsides of the bell peppers with olive oil, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt each.

Pepper cups

  • Fill each pepper cup with the quinoa mixture. Add a small amount of cheese in the middle, and then continue filling with quinoa. **Note: if the peppers aren’t standing up on their own, use a knife to cut the bottoms off so they don’t fall over.**
  • Top each stuffed pepper with a sprinkle of cheese.

Cheese added to peppers

  • Place peppers on baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes at 375 degrees, or until peppers are tender.

Cooked peppers

  • Add slices of avocado to the top, and enjoy!

IMG_8329