Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

This recipe looks really fancy, but it is super easy.  So the next time you want to impress someone with your cooking prowess, make these.  Just plan ahead, because they do need to cook for a good while.

Besides looking fancy, these use quinoa instead of just plain rice, so you can convince everyone that you are extremely health conscious or into exotic food, whichever works.  (Quinoa really isn’t that exotic…)  If you don’t know what quinoa is (pronounced KEEN-wah just so you don’t sound stupid when you’re bragging) it’s an ancient grain/seed from South America that has no gluten and a good dose of protein.  Plus, it is yummy and I can buy it by the pound at my local Sprouts very cheaply.  And a pound goes a really long way. Note: I only wanted to make two peppers, so I made a smaller amount, but this would be very simple to double.

On to the recipe!

Heat a little vegetable or olive oil in a saucepan and throw in 1-2 cloves of garlic and some onion if you have it.  Saute a few minutes, until browned, then pour in 1/3 cup of uncooked quinoa.  Pour in 3/4 cup of vegetable or chicken broth, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, a pinch of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.  Give it a good stir,Peppers and let it boil.  Throw a lid on top, reduce to a simmer and then let it work for 20 minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking, get your peppers ready.  You can use any color; I got these green ones on sale.  Getting all the insides out cleanly isn’t as difficult as it looks.  Cut off the top first, then run a knife around the edge to detach the core with all the seeds.  Then just reach in and pull it all out at once.  Once that’s out, I like to rinse the inside of the pepper out to wash out any leftover seeds.  To get the rest of the white ribs out, I used a spoon with a fairly sharp edge to scoop out all the white bits.  Try to get as much out as you can without poking a hole in the side of the pepper because the white parts are very bitter.  Place your peppers in a baking dish or pan and put a couple of inches of water in the bottom.

QuinoaWhen the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid, stir in 1 cup of frozen corn (ok remember I am a corn fiend so you may not want to use so much.  if you’re crazy….), one can of black beans that has been drained and rinsed and one large can of chicken, also drained.  Add 1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro and let cook a few minutes until heated through. Of course you can leave out the chicken for a delicious vegetarian dinner.

Once everything is warmed through, you are ready to stuff your peppers!!  Don’t be nervous.  Just grab a manageable spoon for this, don’t try to use a giant ladle orPeppers anything silly like that.  Gently spoon the filling into each pepper, pushing down gently to fill each pepper up all the way.  Once all of your peppers are filled, put your dish into a preheated 400 degree oven for one hour.

About ten minutes before the hour is up, pull the peppers out and top each one with a little shredded cheese.  Pop back into the oven for ten more minutes, and viola!  Impressive dinner is served.

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

2 large bell peppers, any color

1 tsp vegetable, canola or olive oil

1-2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 an onion, chopped

1/3 cup uncooked quinoa

3/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth

1/2 tsp cumin

pinch cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup frozen corn

1 can black beans

1 large can cooked white meat chicken, drained (optional)

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

shredded cheddar or colby cheese to garnish

Preheat oven to 400.  Saute garlic and onion in oil until lightly browned.  Add quinoa, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper and pour in broth.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed.

While quinoa is cooking, clean out all seeds and white ribs from peppers.  Place cleaned peppers upright in a baking dish.  Add 1-2 inches of water in the bottom of the dish.

When all liquid has been absorbed into quinoa, add corn, black beans, chicken and cilantro.  Cook a few minutes until all ingredients are warmed through.  Gently spoon mixture into empty peppers, packing down lightly.  Cook peppers for one hour.  Ten minutes before cooking time is over, top with shredded cheese.

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