April 26, 2008
Patience has never been my strong suit. I hear it’s a virtue. Maybe so. But it certainly isn’t one of my virtues. Take these peppers, for instance. I know full well that they’d be best in the dead of summer, when peppers are available in abundance at the farmers markets and at their tastiest. But I’ve also been tinkering around with this filling for awhile and I just couldn’t wait any longer to give it a go and bring it to the blog.
These peppers are stuffed with a mixture made of grains and sauteed vegetables and beans. I’ve tried a number of variations and I think this one is a winner. I chose quinoa for the grain; yellow squash, onions and asparagus for the sauteed vegetables; and chickpeas for the bean. The options, though, are endless: couscous, orzo, farro, brown rice; any vegetable under the sun; cannellini beans, kidney beans or baby limas.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
Then there’s the matter of flavoring up the filling and binding it together. In this incarnation, I’ve gone with Mexican flavors: cumin, toasted coriander seeds, minced chipotle and a bit of adobo sauce. I also threw in some pepitas for crunch. Here again, though, the possible permutations are many. Dried oregano, fennel seeds, pine nuts and tomato paste would be delicious too, I think.
Once the matter of the filling is settled, the method is simple. Par-roast halved, seeded bell peppers (the more peppers, the better, I think). Then, stuff them to the gills with your filling of choice. Shower them with a bit of shredded cheese (aged white cheddar here, but parmesan or gruyere would be great too). The roast them off and enjoy.
I love recipes like this that have that kind of “choose your own adventure” quality to them: a basic method that you can take in a million directions. And there’s something undeniably fun about stuffing things; there’s something very tidy and whole-kit-n-kaboodle about it. If you’d prefer to hold off until peak pepper season, I might direct your attention to a couple other stuffed recipes on this site: Mushroom Caps Stuffed with Fromage Blanc; Feta and Almond Stuffed Olives; my mom’s famous Shrimp-Stuffed Mushrooms; and Stuffed Shells. Or you could use the recipe for the filling to make a quinoa salad. But, I say, why wait?
Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup quinoa
4 large bell peppers (preferably a mix of colors), halved and seeded
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into one-inch segments
1 small yellow squash, halved lengthwise and sliced into half-moons
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 can chopped tomatoes, drained
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 minced chipotle pepper and 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce
2 tablespoons pepitas
2 1/2 tablespoons finely grated sharp white cheddar
Preheat oven to 350. Coat a small baking dish with cooking spray. Split the peppers in half and clean them out; place them in the baking dish. Roast for 20 minutes.
Bring the quinoa and broth to a boil in a small saucepan; reduce heat and cook until the broth is absorbed, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a nonstick skillet. Add onion, asparagus, yellow squash, caraway seeds, cumin, cayenne and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Remove from heat and stir in the tomatoes, chickpeas, chipotle and adobo sauce. Add the quinoa into the skillet and toss with the vegetables. Stir in the pepitas.
Fill the par-roasted peppers with the quinoa mixture. Top each pepper with 2 teaspoons of grated cheese. Bake 15 minutes.
Note: This recipe was initially inspired by this one, but it’s been pretty substantially adapted.