Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Before I talk about how awesome this recipe turned out and how amazing quinoa is for you, here’s some full disclosure:

  • I’d never in my 21 years of living eaten quinoa until last night.
  • I’d never in my 21 years of living eaten or made a stuffed pepper until last night.
  • The recipe on the side of the quinoa box made this sound way easier than it actually was (for me, anyways. I spent half of the time trying to avoid having another Cajun Chicken Pasta smoke alarm episode, and the other half with my eyes watering from the onion.)
  • I halved the recipe on the box because they said to use 4 or 5 peppers. I used two. I halved everything in the recipe except for the quinoa. That was a terrible, delicious mistake. 1 dry cup of quinoa equals like 8 servings of cooked quinoa. If you are following my recipe, only use 1/2 cup of quinoa! You’ve been warned!

Now let’s begin!

Quinoa (keen-wa) is a weird looking little food. It’s kind of like rice, but little golden circular rice that reminds me of fish eggs, which is gross. Don’t think about it too much. Despite its oddness, quinoa is regarded as the “Supergrain of the Future” (for it’s potential to fight world hunger!) and has been traced back to the South American Incan culture as a power-up meal for warriors. Yeah, it’s that cool! It’s loaded with all 9 essential amino acids , packed with iron and magnesium, and is a tasty way to switch up how you get your grains.

Anyways, like every other recipe in the world, there are tons of variations on this one. Switch it up to suit your taste buds; you can add shredded chicken, corn, mushrooms… get a little creative! But here’s what I used:

  • 1 red pepper and 1 green pepper, halved
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 TBL butter
  • 1 cup quinoa (Remember: If you’re only using two peppers, only use 1/2 cup quinoa!)
  • Picante sauce
  • 1 lb. cooked sausage
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

And here’s what you need to do:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Clean your peppers, then cut them in half crosswise.
  • Using a knife (or a spoon, or your hands) gut the peppers. Get all of the seeds out, and any of the white stuff on the sides. (You might rip the bottoms out, like I did. Before I filled them with quinoa, I filled the holes with balled-up soft tortilla shells. You could use a ball of tinfoil, too. Don’t worry about it. Be resourceful!)

halvedpeppers

 

  • Boil a pot of water, and throw the pepper halves in there for 3 minutes. This helps make them softer (and yummier) when you eat them. You can use a veggie steamer instead, if you have one. Once they have boiled/steamed for 3 min., sprinkle the insides with salt and set them upside down on a paper towel to dry off.

boilingpeppers

 

  • Meanwhile, cook the quinoa as directed on the box. (Bring to a boil, add quinoa; reduce to a simmer, cover, and let it sit for 10-15 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed.)
  • If you want sausage or chicken, cook that right meow. I made our sausage extra crispy so that it would contrast with the softness of the quinoa.
  • In a large skillet, add the butter and onion; saute until they are soft.
  • Add tomatoes and garlic; saute until soft, stirring constantly. Throw in a splash or two of picante sauce (I didn’t measure, but I would guess about 1/4 cup. Just eye ball it.) Cook mixture for another five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the cooked quinoa and mix well.
  • Add the sausage and mix well. Your end result should look something like this:

fullskillet

 

…except (again) if you’re only using two whole peppers, for the love of all good things Holy don’t cook so much quinoa. We had a TON of leftover stuffing.

  • Put the pepper halves in a small baking dish, and spoon the filling in. Pack those babies up.

filledpeppers

  • Then sprinkle with cheese.

cheesed peppers

 

  • Then throw them (kidding; gently slide them) into the oven for 2o minutes.

cooked peppers

Ta-da! I put mine under the broiler for about a minute to crisp-ify the cheese on top. The house smelled SO good.

eating peppers

This meal didn’t require any extra spice or seasoning; the pepper and picante sauce took care of that naturally. The quinoa is really filling, and cheese on top evens out some of the hot flavors while contrasting with the crunchiness of the peppers. The taste, colors, and presentation of this meal make it super yummy and unique!

How else do you use your quinoa? And how do you properly gut a pepper?!

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