Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

I remember enjoying stuffed peppers loaded with ground beef, white rice and sometimes even with added chourico (portugese sausage). Needless to say, it tasted delicious, but is loaded with fat and calories. With my "new & improved" lifestyle,I just had to revisit this childhood food I enjoyed. Although rice is considered gluten free, I stay away from it as it seems to be an appetite trigger. I swapped out rice for quinoa and omitted the meat all together.
It is amazing just how flavorful most meals tastes without animal fats.
Give this version of stuffed peppers a try and let us know what you think!
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh Basil 
1 zucchini, diced
1 small eggplant, diced
1 cup butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tomato, diced
1 cup tomato sauce
salt and ground black pepper to taste
6 bell peppers, tops cut off and seeded (any color)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, or more to taste
(tip: feta cheese instead adds a twist to this recipe!)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a deep baking dish with aluminum foil.
  2. Mix quinoa and water together in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until quinoa is tender and water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. 
*tip: add homemade chicken broth instead of water for added flavor & nutrients, freeze chicken broth in ice cube trays after making chicken soup!
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; cook and stir onion and garlic until fragrant and slightly translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add zucchini, eggplant & butternut squash and tomato; cook until slightly tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir tomato sauce into vegetable mixture; cover and simmer until vegetables have softened, about 10 more minutes.
  2. Stir quinoa into vegetable mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Fill bell peppers with quinoa-vegetable mixture. Place peppers in prepared baking dish. Cover dish with aluminum foil.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until bell peppers are slightly tender, about 18 minutes. Remove aluminum foil cover; sprinkle peppers with mozzarella or feta cheese. Bake until cheese is bubbling and melted, about 5 more minutes.

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