Monday, March 25, 2013

Tri-Color Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Yes, I do still have a blog and I do still cook all the time. Blogging isn't something that I'm very good at. I enjoy writing but would rather be creating or cooking.

I was watching Rachel Ray on Sunday morning before my 8 mile treadmill run and saw her making a risotto stuffed pepper and zucchini. One of the challenges that I enjoy is using what I have in the fridge and pantry and seeing what I can create that is similar. I would have been perfectly happy making Rachel's recipe, it looked delicious-but I didn't have any arborio rice. hmmm....

I started going through my pantry and came across some Trader Joe's organic tri-color quinoa. I pulled it out along with some petite diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and a carton of chicken stock. I had green, red, orange, and yellow bell peppers that needed to be used except the red peppers were moldy. they were tossed.

Then, I started thinking about how I could prepare most of this ahead of time in order to make it to my 2nd evening run at 5pm with Anita. Oh, how I love coming home from a run and having most of my dinner READY. And my husband loves it too.

So here you go...

6 cloves of garlic, minced
one small sweet onion, minced
a pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil, divided
a pinch of dried basil
1 carton of good quality chicken or veggie stock
1 small can of tomato paste
1 can of petite diced tomatoes
2 cups of quinoa (I used tri-color quinoa but any type will work)
1 cup of panko crumbs
a small handful of shredded parmesan cheese
6 bell peppers (any color) washed and cleaned out inside, cut the top off
olive oil spray
1/2 cup of parsley, chopped (mint and parsley or basil would work)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400.

In a medium sized pot on low to medium, saute garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes with 1 tbs of olive oil. Once the onion is translucent in 5-7 minutes, add the dried basil. Then add the chicken stock and petite diced tomatoes and turn the heat up on high. Once it starts to boil, add the quinoa (rinse the quinoa if the package tells you too) and turn down the heat to low. It will take about 10-15 minutes but don't overcook the quinoa. Don't let it get mushy! Add the tomato paste and if it's a little watery still, don't worry about it.

Prepare the bell peppers by spraying a casserole dish (or 2 depending on the size) with olive oil spray. Cut the tops off the bell peppers and dig out everything inside. Place them ready to go in the casserole dish.

Then, prepare the crumb mixture in a small bowl by adding crumbs, cheese, and 1 tbs olive oil (or a little more). Feel free to use whole wheat crumbs.

When the quinoa is ready to go, spoon the mixture into each pepper. Once all six peppers are filled, add the crumb mixture on top.

Place in the oven lightly covered with tin foil for about 10-15 minutes. Then, for the remaining 5-10 minutes, take the tin foil off. The idea is to have the peppers gently cooked (soft) and the crumb mixture gently browned. Be careful not to burn the crumb mixture. I almost did, so watch the oven carefully.

Serve with lots of fresh parsley on top and it would be lovely with a side salad.

Quinoa has lots of protein in it so don't feel like you are missing it!

These stuffed peppers are great leftover too so make sure you make six of them! Your friends at work will be jealous of your lunch.

About carton chicken/veggie stocks: Don't buy Trader Joe's brand. It's pretty much the ONLY thing that I don't like at Trader Joe's. It is too thick and nasty, in my opinion.