Monday, January 6, 2014

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers -- Cathy

Here is a post for anyone looking for a new recipe for Meatless Monday (or Tuesday, or whenever it fits into your week...)  This is actually Caity's recipe, but I make it quite a lot because Kevin and I love it, so I thought I'd just go ahead and enter it for her.  

Our family really, really loves Spanish smoked paprika as you can tell from Erin's Paprika Shrimp Pasta, and probably others but I can't think of them right now.  Actually I make a simple Spanish-influenced salad that I should post sometime that uses a smoked paprika dressing.  And, oh! Erin needs to post her fabulous, addictive marinara sauce with Spanish chorizo and smoked paprika! But I usual...

Anyway, these stuffed peppers are a wonderful recipe that Caity came up with when she was still a college student.  She filled them with all sorts of wonderful-tasting things:  quinoa, tomatoes, zucchini, pine nuts, cheese, and ground beef.  This version is actually going to be a meatless one, but it's wonderful either way you do it, and I will give the meat option, too.

 I have changed the way the peppers are cut, just because I think they're prettier cut in half from top to bottom so that you can keep some of the stem on, and also easier to eat that way.  Also, I didn't grow up eating stuffed peppers, so I didn't know how they are supposed to look.  But I like them this way!  They are easy to balance, they cook faster and are easier to eat, and best of all they have a nice crunchy browned (and yes, cheesy) top.

One year ago: Chicken Pizzaiola
Two years ago:  Egyptian Kosheri
Three years ago: Spanish Tortilla with Chorizo 

what you'll need: 

2-3 large red or green bell peppers
1-3 Tbsp. good olive oil (depending on if you use butter)
2 Tbsp. butter (optional if you want vegan)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika (try to use an imported Spanish brand--the flavor is vastly superior to domestic.  Should be labeled Pimenton Dulce for the sweet, not hot or bitter type)
1/4 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup quinoa, very well rinsed to remove bitter coating, and then drained(whatever color you like)
1 medium tomato, chopped with juices reserved
1 small zucchini, chopped small
1 1/2 cups chicken, mushroom, or veggie broth
 8 oz. browned ground beef, or meatless crumbles (optional)
Salt, to taste 
1 cup shredded mozzarella or manchego cheese, divided (omit or use vegan cheese if desired)

Cut the peppers in half lengthwise, trying to cut through the stems if possible.  Clean out and discard the seeds and ribs.  Put the peppers onto a microwaveable plate and give them a nuke for about 2 minutes to soften them up a bit.

Over medium heat, heat the olive oil/butter (use all olive oil, all butter or whatever you want.  I usually just use olive oil) combination in a large-ish pan.  Saute the onions until soft.  Add in smoked paprika and pine nuts; stir and saute for a minute or two.

Add in quinoa, stir to coat well in oil and saute for a few minutes to dry out and toast a bit, stirring occasionally.  Stir in chopped tomato and zucchini and saute for a minute or two.  

Add in broth of your choice, stirring and scraping bottom and sides of pan well.  Set heat so that pan just barely simmers and cook for 10-15 minutes, just until the little curly tails of the quinoa barely start to pop out and the quinoa takes on a slightly translucent look.  Add in a little water if mixture is starting to dry out too quickly while cooking, but by the end, most of the liquid should have evaporated.  If not, turn the heat up a bit and stirring carefully to avoid scorching, cook off the extra moisture.  


Simmering away.


Just done!

Add in the meat or meatless crumbles if using, and heat through.  Taste for seasoning, adding in more salt if needed, or more paprika if you like a smokier flavor.  Add in just 1/2 cup of the grated cheese.

Pile the quinoa mixture into the pepper halves, mounding up in the center.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  

Bake for about 20 minutes, just until heated through and cheese is melting and starting to get nicely bubbly and browned.

This is soooo flavorful and delicious!  And it's great to take to work the next day for lunch, too!  We hope you love it!

One year ago: Chicken Pizzaiola
Two years ago:  Egyptian Kosheri

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