Sunday, June 22, 2014

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

This is by far the best quinoa recipe I have made thus far! The filling is so good, it can be eaten all on its own if you don't have the time to bake the peppers for over an hour. This filling would even work for vegetarian tacos in a soft whole grain tortilla. Or with the right binding agent, it would be great for making quinoa cakes. These stuffed peppers were really good with some steamed broccoli on the side, but any green vegetable or tossed salad would go with these well.

The biggest change I made to the original recipe for these stuffed peppers is that I used vegetable stock for cooking liquid for the quinoa instead of water for additional flavor. I also combined some vegetable stock with the reserved liquid from the diced tomatoes for cooking liquid in the bottom of the baking pan for steaming the peppers. 

Especially with the long baking time, these stuffed peppers do take some time and prep work. I chopped all of vegetables in the morning and then made the filling in the early afternoon when I had a few minutes. Then at dinner time, all I had to do was fill the peppers and toss them in the oven. This recipe makes a lot more filling than is needed, but it can be easily frozen, or eaten on its own as leftovers the next day. 

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers


1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 ribs organic celery, finely chopped
3 organic carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 10-oz package organic frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove water
1 15-oz can organic fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained - liquid reserved
1 15-oz can organic fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
1 15-oz can organic black beans, drained
3/4 cup organic quinoa
3 cups organic vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups organic pepper-jack cheese, grated
4 large organic red bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise and seeded


1. Heat olive oil in large stock pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrots and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add cumin and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in spinach and tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir in black beans, quinoa and 2 cups vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of cheese.

3. Fill each pepper half with quinoa mixture - about 3/4 cup. Place in large baking dish. Combine reserved liquid from diced tomatoes and remaining 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock. Pour into bottom of baking pan. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. 

4. Remove foil and top each pepper half with about 1 Tbsp pepper jack cheese. Bake for an additional 15 minutes, uncovered, to melt cheese. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

(Recipe adapted from Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers from the Feb 2009 issue, p.66)

What are the nutritional benefits of this meal? Onions are rich in quercetin, a type of antioxidant, as well as vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C, K, folate, thiamin, and minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium and manganese.  Olive oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids, which have been shown to help lower bad cholesterol (LDL), raise good cholesterol (HDL), and aid in blood sugar control. Celery provides vitamin K and folic acid. Grapes are a good source of vitamins C, A and K. Carrots are very high in vitamin A (with one cup providing over 400% of the daily value), and they are also an excellent source of vitamin C and fiber. Garlic contains flavonoids (a type of antioxidant), and is a great source of vitamins C and B6, and the mineral manganese. Spinach is packed with fiber,  vitamins K, A, C, B2, B6 and folate, and the minerals iron, manganese, magnesium, calcium and potassium. Canned tomato products contain more bioavailable lycopene compared with fresh tomatoes, and are high in vitamin C. Black beans are high in protein and fiber and are a significant source if iron, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese and B vitamins thiamin and folate. Quinoa is a whole grain and is a complete protein, meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids. Quinoa is also a great source if fiber, iron, lysine, magnesium, riboflavin and manganese. Pepper jack cheese provides a great source of protein and calcium. Bell peppers are one of the best food sources of vitamins A and C. Broccoli is packed with vitamins C and K, and is also a good source of folate and calcium.

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