Quinoa and Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Peppers
As I was surfing Pinterest the other day, I saw a picture of a creamy quinoa and chicken casserole. Immediately I thought of all of the other ways I could use quinoa. While this protein powerhouse is good on its own, I’ve also seen it used in cookies, granola, breakfast cereals, and even brownies. I certainly don’t think adding quinoa to other recipes would do any harm, since it is both healthy and versatile. I decided that it was time to step out of my quinoa comfort zone to create something a little bit different. That’s when quinoa stuffed peppers were born. All the tasty extras that go into stuffed peppers are what make them special. I didn’t skimp on flavor. These bright yellow bell peppers were filled with garlic flavored spinach, diced sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, buttery pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. I topped them off with some crispy Italian-seasoned panko bread crumbs, a little bit more parmesan, and warm tomato sauce. Sorry for all you vegans out there, but this is a vegetarian dish. There is a brilliant recipe on Somer’s blog, Vedged Out, for homemade vegan mozzarella. I suppose you could always use that if you are the mood for this filling stuffed vegetable dish. Read on for the recipe.
Ingredients for sun-dried tomato stuffed peppers:
2/3 cup of quinoa
3 organic bell peppers
1/2 tbsp of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, diced
2 handfuls of spinach, washed
1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, red pepper flakes, and thyme
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup parmesan cheese + a little bit more for sprinkling
1 – 2 tbsp of pine nuts
1-2 tbsp of fresh basil, chopped
bread crumbs for sprinkling (optional, if you are GF, you could always use GF bread crumbs or eliminate them entirely)
1 cup of your favorite tomato sauce, warmed
1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then add the quinoa to a pot over medium heat with 1 and 1/3 cup of water. Cook until all of the water is absorbed and the quinoa is soft.
2- Cut out the stem and seeds of the pepper by cutting a circle around the stem of the pepper. Remove the stem and shake out any extra seeds. Put the three peppers face down in a loaf pan. Bake them for about 15 minutes while the quinoa is cooking.
3- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Then add the slices of garlic to the pan. When the edges of the garlic begin to brown, throw in the spinach. Let the spinach soften.
4- When the quinoa is finished cooking, stir in the spices and extra virgin olive oil. Then add the spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, parmesan cheese, and pine nuts. Mix well.
5- After you’ve taken the peppers out of the oven, flip them over in the loaf pan. Drain any excess water. Then, stuff the peppers with the quinoa mixture. Careful not to burn your fingers as they are hot. I stuffed mine using an ice cream scoop (this helped me avoid the huge mess that would have come from using a normal teaspoon). Top with Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs and a bit more parmesan. Bake for about 20 minutes.
6- Heat sauce to serve with the peppers after they come out of the oven. Slice the peppers in half and enjoy!
If you’re in the mood for another Italian dinner recipe, I also made the lasagna soup recipe Move Eat Create linked to. Her blog is fabulous by the way (if you haven’t checked it out yet). I’ve bookmarked the recipe and it is definitely one I will make again (and again). Do you have any favorite Italian recipes that are staples in your diet?