Dish off the Block: Confetti quinoa stuffed peppers
My kids stared blankly at the plate.
“What is it?”
“Quinoa,” I told them, “is a grain grown in South America. It is super-packed with nutrients, amino acids, and has more fiber and protein than most grains. Try it..”
They rolled their eyes, but they knew the rule — the one bite rule. In our house, you don’t have to eat something if you don’t like it, but you must try it. So, they reluctantly took a forkful of my colorful quinoa-stuffed pepper concoction. They looked up — surprised, and went in for another bite… and another. This was 10 years ago and, today, this dish is still in my son’s top three favorites that I make. He was home from college for Christmas and, after my chicken pot pie and fish tacos, this was his next request.
This dish was also the subject of his essay for his college applications. He wrote about the “one bite rule” and how it has helped him not only venture into trying new foods, but is how he approaches everything in life. Don’t discount or judge anything until you’ve tried it… you just might like it!
I hope you like this dish as much as we do.
Confetti quinoa stuffed peppers
6 large yellow, red, and green bell peppers (any combination)
1 cup quinoa
2 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. butter
1 large leek, chopped white and light green parts
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
7 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and tops sliced cross-wise
1 small zucchini, sliced into quarter inch half moons
1 pint grape tomatoes cut in half
3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, packed
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
3 tbs. fresh basil, chopped
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. black pepper
8 oz. goat cheese crumbled
2 cups Swiss cheese, shredded
Cut the tops off of the peppers and remove the stems and seeds, reserving the edible part from the lid. Chop these tops into a half-inch dice and set aside.
Place pepper “cups” in a large stock pot and cover with salted water. Boil until tender when pierced with a fork. Reserve 2 cups of the ‘pepper water’. Remove peppers from pan and cool and drain, upside down, on paper towels.
Cook 1 cup raw quinoa in the reserved 2 cups of stock until it comes to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until all the moisture is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. The quinoa will be translucent in color.
Heat olive and butter in large deep skillet. Add the reserved chopped peppers (from tops), leeks, and garlic to the pan. Sauté until tender and then add mushrooms, zucchini, and tomatoes to skillet. Continue to cook until the onions and mushrooms are lightly browned, stirring frequently, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add quinoa, spinach, corn, basil, salt and black pepper to the pan and toss to mix. Cook for another 5 minutes until the spinach has wilted. Remove from heat. Add crumbled goat cheese and toss gently. Scoop the mixture into the peppers to fill each shell. Sprinkle shredded Swiss over the top of peppers.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes until the Swiss cheese is melted and lightly browned. Garnish with more fresh chopped basil and serve.
Delish and sooo good for you, too!