The pepper crop is bountiful now. A just-right amount, not buried-in-abundance like our eggplant, but perfect for making up a pan of stuffed peppers!
When I last made stuffed peppers in July, I happened to have some leftover quinoa in the refrigerator. I love clearing out leftovers, so I swapped out my usual rice for a combination of rice and quinoa. As I mixed the ingredients (but before adding the meat) I started nibbling. Hmmm, did I really need the meat?
And so I decided that the next time I made the dish, I would do it meatless.
Quinoa is a trendy food that has actually been around for over 3000 years. Although it can be used similarly to rice, it isn’t a grain–it is actually a seed! According to Wikipedia, quinoa is a good gluten-free source of dietary fiber, phosphorous, magnesium and iron, and contains some calcium. One of its most interesting traits is the fact that it is actually a complete protein.
Now one of the challenges in vegetarian cooking can be getting enough protein because most grains and vegetables do not contain the full complement of amino acids needed to make a complete protein. That is why you see beans served with rice, or peanut butter with bread. Quinoa is a delightful exception to this!
Even though completing the protein wasn’t an issue, I decided to add some pine nuts as a flavor boost–feel free to omit or substitute a less expensive nut if you’d like. With no eggs or cheese, this dish even qualifies as vegan!
When I mentioned what I was making, the kids looked at me like I was nuts. In the end, however, the smell got to them, they dug in and the dish scored a four thumbs up!
Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 1/2 c water
- 1 med onion, chopped
- 1/4 c chopped celery (including leaves)
- 1 T oil
- 2 garlic cloves chopped coarsely
- 2T dried dill
- 2 T chopped parsley
- 1/4 c pine nuts
- 1 jar tomato paste
- Approx 5 peppers (depending on size), stem and cores removed
- Large jar of Pasta sauce
1.. Place the quinoa and water in a large saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Sauté onions and celery until onions are translucent.
3. Combine onion & celery mixture, cooked quinoa, chopped garlic, herbs and tomato paste. Stuff peppers and place in baking dish, then cover with pasta sauce.
4. Cover and bake until peppers are tender, about an hour. (These were done in 30 minutes in the Nesco Roaster below–probably because the peppers were so near the heat source, but my oven time has always been at least an hour)
I made these on a blistering hot day, so I cooked them outdoors in an electric roaster with a bit of water and added the pasta sauce later. Cool and healthy–can’t beat that!
Can’t do without your meat? Try this!