Thanks to the weeks of cookies, bars, and other sweet things that have been featured on this blog recently, I’m now on a little bit of a health kick. That, and the subtle tightening of one’s blue jeans is a very sobering experience.
The good news is that beautifully healthy food and beautifully delicious food is something that can go hand-in hand, Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers being one such example. In fact, not only does this dish go for 250 calories a serving, but it’s also filled with colorful veggies and exotic flavor. Thanks to the quinoa, it’s also great for those of you who want to avoid rice and pasta, seeing as quinoa is actually a relative of beets and spinach. All these ingredients combined create a savory, filling meal that’s good for your body and your taste buds.
To start off, chop up some bell pepper, onion, garlic, parsley, carrots and grab a bunch of baby spinach to get yourself all ready for cooking the filling.
Let’s pretend that I didn’t forget to buy mushrooms and that they’re pictured above, lovingly sliced with utmost care.
Meanwhile, following the package instructions, cook the quinoa.
Here it is, in all its quinoa-osity!
Once everything’s prepped, heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
Great things will happen in this pan.
Once the pan is heated, sauté the onion and garlic until softened.
It’s so purple and…purpley?
I'm sorry, but all of my witticisms fly out the window after midnight.
Anyway, next up is the peppers and carrots. After those are softened, add the spinach, parsley, quinoa, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne.
In retrospect, I would’ve used a red bell pepper instead of orange. It would’ve looked much better with the carrots. You eat with your eyes, after all.
The original recipe didn’t call for cayenne pepper, but I added it out of habit. Thanks to my mom’s Cajun heritage, my family operates under the belief that there is absolutely nothing that cannot be improved with the addition of cayenne. It’s our culinary version of Toula’s father’s Windex in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. The phrase “Put some cayenne in it” is pretty much our family motto.
After you’ve added the requisite cayenne, stir everything together with a bit of salt and pepper.
Now you’re ready for the bell peppers!
To prepare the peppers, slice the tops off and scoop out the seeds, reserving the tops.
I love how colorful bell peppers are.
After letting the filling slightly cool, gently pack it into the peppers.
The recipe below makes more than this; I just forgot to buy an extra pepper for the one that goes in the filling.
Pop on those tops and you’re ready to bake!
They’re like little packages of nutritious deliciousness.
After about an hour in the oven, you’ve got yummy stuffed bell peppers bursting with vitamins, minerals, and warm, spicy flavor. If you’re ready for a little break from your everyday meals, give this unique eat a try.
Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers
Recipe adapted from “Roasted Bell Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa” from Whole Foods Market
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Red Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
½ pound sliced Mushrooms
1 cup chopped Carrots
7 Bell Peppers (1 cored, seeded, and chopped; tops removed and reserved from remaining 6, then cored and seeded)
½ cup chopped Parsley
¼ pound baby Spinach
1 ½ teaspoons ground Cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground Cumin
1 cup uncooked Quinoa, rinsed and cooked according to package directions
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Pinch of ground Cayenne Pepper
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until transparent. Add mushrooms and cook until softened. Add carrots and chopped peppers, cook until just softened, then add parsley and spinach. Once spinach is wilted, add cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, and quinoa and stir gently to combine. Add salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes more. Set aside to let filling briefly cool.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish and set aside.
Divide quinoa mixture evenly among the 6 bell peppers, gently packing it down and making sure to fully fill each pepper. Top each pepper with its reserved top and arrange upright in the baking dish. Cover snugly with foil and bake until peppers are tender and juicy, about 1 hour. Transfer to plates and serve.