Whether you use quinoa frequently, or have a bag of the stuff gathering dust in your cupboard, then this recipe is for you. Despite the persistently warm (hot!) weather, I have been itching to make some cozy, comfort food to get me in an autumn frame of mind.
These peppers came together after a long day of work at the computer. I had neglected to make a (much needed) trip to the grocery store, so it was a make-do-with-what’s-on-hand kind of night. I had to teach my spinning class at 5:30, so I had to get things prepped in short order before I left. With Nick in tow, I perused the pantry, but found no inspiration. But a peak in the refrigerator reminded me of the pretty peppers my neighbor had delivered–fresh from her garden–the day before. Stuffed peppers! That was it.
I was momentarily torn between quinoa or couscous for the filling, but opted for the former; although couscous is quicker, quinoa is easier overall because protein and carbohydrates in one. Some chipotle salsa and cilantro swiftly solved my flavor conundrum, and before I knew it, I had dinner underway.
You can vary this basic recipe as little or as much as you like. In the end, I topped the peppers with some crumbled queso fresco (feta or goat cheese would be yummy, too) and a squeeze of lime juice just before serving; next time I may add some crumbled tofu or cooked chicken. But quite frankly, I loved the simplicity of flavors with the short list of ingredients. The flavors are clear and bright, and a good balance of hearty and fresh to transition into fall.
- 3 large bell peppers (preferably red, orange or yellow, but green is fine, too)
- 1-1/2 cups quinoa
- 1-1/4 cups bottled chipotle salsa (or favorite salsa of choice)
- 1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
- ½ cup packed fresh basil (or cilantro, or parsley) leaves, finely chopped
- Topping suggestions: , roasted pepitas, squeeze of fresh lime juice; if not vegan, try crumbled cheeese (e.g., queso fresco, feta, goat cheese) or a dollop of plain Greek yogurt
- Cut the peppers in half lengthwise through the stem end and scoop out the seeds and membranes. Put the peppers in one layer on a baking sheet. Spritz with cooking spray and season with salt and pepper. Bake peppers 20-25 minutes until just tender.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups water to a boil; add the quinoa, Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 11-14 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed. Add the salsa and cumin; cook 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in basil; season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Spoon quinoa mixture into the baked pepper halves. Return to the oven for 15 minutes, until the tops are slightly browned. Serve straight up, or sprinkle with toppings of choice.