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Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa

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Stuffed peppers with quinoa are a wholesome and flavorful dish that combines the natural sweetness of bell peppers with a hearty quinoa filling. This vegetarian recipe is not only nutritious but also versatile, allowing you to customize the ingredients to suit your taste preferences. Whether you’re looking for a satisfying main course or a vibrant side dish, stuffed peppers with quinoa are sure to be a hit. Here’s how to prepare this delicious dish along with tips for creating a memorable meal:

Ingredients:

  • 4 large bell peppers, any color
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (such as cheddar or mozzarella), optional
  • Fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped, for garnish

Instructions:

1. Prepare the Quinoa:

  • In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa and vegetable broth or water.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until quinoa is cooked and liquid is absorbed.
  • Remove from heat and fluff quinoa with a fork. Set aside.

2. Prepare the Bell Peppers:

  • Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • Cut the tops off the bell peppers and remove the seeds and membranes. Set aside the tops.
  • If necessary, trim the bottoms of the peppers slightly to help them stand upright in a baking dish.

3. Prepare the Filling:

  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add chopped onion and sauté until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add minced garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  • Stir in diced zucchini, carrot, corn kernels, and black beans. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
  • Add ground cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir well to combine.
  • Remove from heat and stir in cooked quinoa. Adjust seasoning if needed.

4. Stuff the Peppers:

  • Spoon the quinoa and vegetable mixture evenly into each bell pepper, packing it down gently.
  • If using cheese, sprinkle shredded cheese on top of each stuffed pepper.

5. Bake the Stuffed Peppers:

  • Place the stuffed peppers upright in a baking dish. Pour a little water into the bottom of the dish to create steam and prevent the peppers from drying out.
  • Cover the baking dish with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the peppers are tender and the filling is heated through.
  • If using cheese, uncover the peppers for the last 10 minutes of baking to allow the cheese to melt and slightly brown.

6. Serve:

  • Remove the stuffed peppers from the oven and let them cool slightly before serving.
  • Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or cilantro.
  • Serve hot and enjoy these delicious stuffed peppers with quinoa!

Tips for Success:

  • Choosing Bell Peppers: Select large, firm bell peppers that can stand upright on their own. Choose a variety of colors for a visually appealing presentation.
  • Customization: Feel free to add other vegetables such as mushrooms, spinach, or tomatoes to the filling mixture. You can also incorporate cooked ground meat or tofu for added protein.
  • Make-Ahead Option: Prepare the stuffed peppers ahead of time and refrigerate them until ready to bake. This is convenient for busy weeknights or when planning meals in advance.
  • Gluten-Free Option: Ensure all ingredients, including the vegetable broth and seasonings, are gluten-free if needed.

Nutritional Benefits:

Stuffed peppers with quinoa provide a balanced mix of carbohydrates from quinoa, fiber and vitamins from vegetables, and protein from beans and optional cheese. They are a nutritious meal option that satisfies hunger while offering essential nutrients.

Pairing Suggestions:

Serve stuffed peppers with quinoa alongside a crisp green salad dressed with vinaigrette or a side of garlic bread for a complete meal. They pair well with a refreshing iced tea, lemonade, or a light-bodied white wine.

Conclusion:

Stuffed peppers with quinoa are a delicious and wholesome dish that appeals to vegetarians and omnivores alike. With their vibrant colors and robust flavors, these stuffed peppers make a satisfying main course or a standout side dish for any occasion. Enjoy the combination of tender bell peppers filled with savory quinoa and vegetables, and savor each bite of this nutritious and flavorful meal!

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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