Saturday, December 27, 2008

I made stuffed peppers

Last night I was on a quest to find something new and different but not too labor intensive to make for dinner. I knew I wanted something that was healthy and light (especially after a few days of rich holiday food) but still delicious and comforting. I finally settled on stuffed peppers. I had never made them before but had the idea to incorporate my latest obsession: quinoa. I searched all over the internet for the perfect recipe and finally settled on adapting this recipe from epicurious, which I will now copy and paste in order to show my adjustments (in bold).

Roasted Bell Pepper Halves Stuffed with
Quinoa and Spinach

(The recipe originally called for bulgur. But seriously, why would anyone stuff a pepper with bulgur when they can use quinoa? Especially since the latter is much easier to prepare. And more delicious. And prettier.)

  • 3 red bell peppers (2 large and 1 small)
  • 2 large yellow bell peppers (I also used orange... this recipe is for 4 peppers, but I had enough stuffing for 5.)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided. (I'm sure I used more.)
  • 2 cups no-chicken broth (I always cook quinoa in broth for flavor, but water is ok too... maybe just add some more salt.)
  • 1 cup red quinoa (the regular kind is fine too, but red is prettier)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dried currants
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4-5 shallots, coarsely chopped (my addition...added a nice sweetness to the flavor I think.)
  • 2 cloves garlic (also my addition because it just seemed wrong to leave it out.)
  • 1 6-ounce bag fresh baby spinach leaves (I used a big bushel on unpackaged spinach...had to be more than 6 0z...)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1-2 cups crumbled feta (The recipe called for 1 cup/4 oz. F that. Why be stingy with your feta? The rest of this meal is so healthy and besides, feta is not a very fattening cheese. I think I used about two cups.)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut large red and yellow (and orange!) bell peppers in half through stem end. Remove seeds and cut out ribs, leaving stems intact. Finely chop small red bell pepper; set aside. Spread 1 tablespoon oil over rimmed baking sheet. Place pepper halves, cut side down, on prepared sheet. Roast 15 minutes. Turn over; roast until slightly softened, about 15 minutes longer. Remove from oven.

Meanwhile, combine quinoa and broth in medium sauce pan. (Some quinoa needs to be rinsed first, but now there are several "no rinse" brands. Check instructions on the package.) Bring to boil, then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. It's ready when the texture is soft and fluffy and the grains have little yellow strands on them.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, let cook for about a minute, then add shallots and chopped red pepper; sauté until beginning to brown. Add currants and pine nuts; sauté 2 minutes. Add cumin; stir 20 seconds. Mix in spinach; stir until beginning to wilt, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in quinoa, mint, and dill. Stir in half of cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Divide quinoa mixture among pepper halves. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Bake stuffed peppers until heated through, about 25 minutes (or 30 minutes if chilled); serve.

Plain peps:

About to go in the oven:

Fresh out the oven:

It was sooo tasty and so aesthetically pleasing! The peppers were nice and blackened... and the red quinoa, spinach, feta, etc is so colorful. At first I was a little skeptical of the flavor combination. Combining cumin, mint and dill seemed strange to me. And the currants seemed out of place. But I decided to trust the recipe and it worked! The best thing I've made in weeks. Now I am going to see how many other varieties of stuffed peppers I can come up with...

AK says:

Also there was this salad. It was so good! It had chickpeas, pepperoncini, black olives, red onion, romaine lettuce, carrot...and probably some other things. I ate a lot of it.

ALSO: Alice was there and seemed excited about our dinner too.

This is what it all looked like on the plate. I ate every bite of that food.

Thanks for cooking that delicious dinner.

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