Meatless Monday Recipe: Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

February 11, 2013

Quinoa is one of the most nutritious seeds you’ll find in the grocery store. It provides a healthy dose of fiber and essential fats, and is a complete protein, with nearly twice as much of the muscle-building nutrient as brown rice. (Read: The 5 Best and Worst Meat Substitutes)  “At 9 g of natural plant protein per cup, quinoa is one seed that should grace the dinner plates of all seeking a healthful alternative to meat,” says Janet Brill, PhD, RD, author of Cholesterol DOWN and Prevent a Second Heart Attack. Using quinoa as filling in traditional meals is a great way to incorporate it in your diet.

This recipe pairs quinoa with peppers, a vitamin-dense powerhouse in their own right, and has fewer calories and fat than versions stuffed with meat and rice.

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Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup quinoa
4 large red, green, or yellow bell peppers
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 package (10 ounces) fresh spinach, tough stems removed, torn into large pieces
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup dried currants or raisins
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon dried italian seasoning

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Cook the slivered almonds in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Tip onto a plate and let cool.
3. In a saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil. Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water for 2 minutes. Stir into the boiling water. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Uncover and set aside.
4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut off and reserve the tops of the peppers. Remove the seeds and ribs. Add the peppers and tops to the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain.
5. In the same pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes, or until golden brown. Stir in the garlic. Remove 2 tablespoons of the onion mixture and set aside.
6. Add the spinach to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until wilted and any water evaporates. Remove the pot from the heat. Add the feta, currants or raisins, almonds, and quinoa to the spinach mixture. Stir to combine. Arrange the peppers in a shallow baking dish. Spoon in the stuffing, mounding to fill, and replace the tops. Add 1/2" water to the baking dish. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the peppers are tender.
7. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the tomatoes (with juice), tomato paste, Italian seasoning, and the reserved 2 tablespoons onion mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until thickened. Spoon the sauce onto plates and top with the peppers.

Visit the Rodale Recipe Finder for more tasty ways to enjoy quinoa.