This meatless recipe of red bell peppers stuffed with quinoa, spinach, onions, and carrots is absolutely dee-lish! I wasn't sure my husband was going to dig it. It turned out, he totally grooved on it. Said it was "fresh and fun". SCORE!!!
OH! And I finally figured out the secret to making tasty quinoa that can be eaten again and again. The water needs to be seasoned. I'm not talking about cooking quinoa in broth. To me, that's a waste of broth. I'm talking about seasoning the water with a little oil, 2 teaspoons of onion powder, 2 teaspoon garlic powder, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper. As for cooking the quinoa, I know a better way of getting it tender and fluffy that beats the directions on the package. Go to Cooking Fluffy Quinoa.
Now, when I read the original recipe for Stuffed Bell Peppers, the cooking time was for 1 hour. ONE HOUR! No way! I'm hungry now. I had to figure out a way to get those bell pepper tender in a much shorter time. *light bulb appears above my head*
- Broil the empty bell peppers upside down on a low broil while cooking the filling and quinoa!
Come on, you gotta admit that's pretty smart. ;D
By the time I had the filling ready, the peppers were half way tender. Still solid enough for me to handle and fill. I quickly learned while trying to fill the peppers that not all peppers balance in their upright position. I had to empty a bell pepper and give it a slice off the bottom to make it sit in place. Once the peppers were filled it only took another 15 minutes of low broiling to get them tender. That cut the original cooking time to half.
Oh and another thing I need to mention. Get that quinoa going first while you're chopping the vegetables. Go ahead and chop every ingredient BEFORE you start cooking them. I tried chopping about half the vegetable list then chopping as I went. That wasn't efficient. Next time, I'll know better and my cooking time will be even less.
HERE'S ALL IT TAKES
- 1 cup quinoa, cooked my way - Cooking Fluffy Quinoa
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for oiling the pan
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
- 7 bell peppers (1 cored, seeded and chopped; tops removed and reserved from remaining 6 then cored and seeded)
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups frozen spinach, thawed, chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
Fill a large cooking pot with water to start cooking the quinoa, follow the Cooking Fluffy Quinoa recipe. Once cooked, drain and set aside in warm bowl.
Heat broiler on low setting. Place seeded bell peppers upside down on cookie sheet and place on middle rack in oven. Keep watch over them while making vegetable filling.
For the vegetable filling: In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil and cook carrots and onion until onion is translucent. Add in mushrooms and chopped bell pepper, cook until pepper is tender, 5 minutes. Add in cilantro, chopped spinach, cinnamon, and cumin. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. Continue cooking another 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
After the quinoa is cooked and drained, add 1 cup of the cooked quinoa to vegetable filling and toss together well.
Remove bell peppers from oven. Turn right side up and fill with vegetable filling. Be careful not to tear the peppers. Return peppers and continue to broil on low for 15 minutes. Finally, transfer hot yummy stuffed peppers to a serving platter and you're ready to eat!
Now, if you don't want to go through any extra trouble. You can easily skip roasting the bell pepper and just eat the filling. Honestly, I could have stopped cooking right after adding the quinoa and had a perfectly fine meal. Take a look at the photo below. It's the filling right before I stuffed it in the peppers.
See what I mean? It's so good for you, too.