Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.
~Harriet Van Horne
Recipe source: Good Cheap Eats
When cooking for guests, it’s always nice to have a “stunner” recipe in your repertoire – something that is beautiful to the eye, complex to the palate, enticing to the nose, and kind to the stomach. This is just such a recipe. It can be made as a main course or side dish, and is friendly to vegetarians and Celiacs alike.
The first step of this recipe is to prepare the filling. And the filling is so good, you might just want to stop there! (No, seriously… it’s great even by itself as a one-dish meal. Don’t fret if you have extra!)
Begin by cooking quinoa, carrots, and water in a covered saucepan for about 20 minutes.
At the same time, saute onion, celery, and poblano pepper, season with cumin and garlic, and then add in sliced mushrooms and drained canned tomatoes.
When the quinoa is tender, stir in black beans, shredded pepperjack cheese*, and the onion mixture. Your filling is now ready.
*Taste tip: You can make these vegan by omitting the cheese. Entertaining bonus! Everyone is welcome.
Next, pour liquid from tomatoes into the bottom of a baking dish (a 9×13 glass dish worked well for me) and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. If you’re making this recipe as a side, slice the bell peppers in half vertically and scoop out the seeds and as much membrane as possible.
*Shopping tip: For this serving especially, try to find peppers with the shallowest bottom possible. The curvier your peppers are, the less room you will have to fill them inside. After cutting one open, you’ll see what I mean.
If these are going to be a main dish, cut only the tops off the peppers. If you reserve them, they make cute little hats at the dinner table! You can get creative with the colors of peppers you serve as well – I stuffed red and green peppers for a Christmas dinner last year.
Fill each bell pepper with a heaping serving of filling, and place in the baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes, then uncover and sprinkle each pepper with a bit more cheese. Bake for another 15 minutes and let stand 5 minutes before serving.
RECIPE – Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1/2 of a poblano pepper, diced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (8 oz.) pkg. mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups grated carrot
1 3/4 cups water
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups grated reduced-fat pepper Jack cheese, divided
4 large bell peppers, halved lengthwise to serve 8 or tops removed to serve 4
Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and poblano pepper and cook 5 minutes, or until soft. Add cumin and garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms and drained tomatoes. Cook 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
In a separate saucepan with a lid, stir in quinoa, carrots, and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Combine quinoa and carrots with black beans, 1 cup of cheese, and the onion mixture from the first step. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour reserved liquid from tomatoes into the bottom of a baking dish.
Fill each bell pepper half with heaping 3/4-cup of quinoa mixture, and place in baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle each pepper with 1 tablespoon of remaining cheese. Bake 15 minutes more, or until tops of stuffed peppers are browned. Let stand 5 minutes. Transfer stuffed peppers to serving plates and drizzle with pan juices before serving.
Serves 4 as a main dish or 8 as a side.