Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
After weeks of dust my kitchen is finally back! On an 85° March day in Los Angeles I bring you a fresh, cool dish with mint and lemon. These gluten-free stuffed peppers can be a great vegetarian dinner or made with mini sweet peppers, they make a nice snack or kid friendly lunch. The recipe gives another nod to my Syrian grandmother with the flavors from her lemony Hamud broth.
4 small bell peppers 3 Tbsp oil ¾ c quinoa 1 ¾ c low sodium chicken or vegetable broth 3/4 c minced celery (about 2 stalks)
¼ c minced onion (about ½ small onion) 1 small garlic clove, minced 3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley 1 Tbsp dried mint ¼ c lemon juice (about 2 lemons) ¼ c sunflower seeds 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese salt
Use mini sweet peppers to make it an appetizer, snack or kid-friendly food.
Adjust the amount of onion and garlic depending on your preference.
If you’re a carnivore, add some cooked ground meat or shredded chicken. For vegetarians, add some finely diced tofu for extra protein. Stir both in with the quinoa mixture.
Make the Quinoa:
Place 1 ½ Tbsp oil, ½ tsp salt and the quinoa in a medium-small saucepan over a high flame. Shake the pan to get the quinoa coated with the oil. Cook for about 5 minutes shaking often. This will toast the quinoa and intensify the flavor.
Once toasted add the broth and bring to a boil. Then reduce the flame as low as it goes, cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. The ratio of liquid is a bit higher than usual for quinoa but I prefer it a bit wet for this dish.
Meanwhile, chop the parsley, juice the lemons and gather the rest of the ingredients. Mince the celery, onion and garlic.
Heat a non-stick skillet and add 1 ½ Tbsp oil. Add the celery and onion and cook over a medium-low flame. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until they are tender but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Once done, remove the skillet from the burner.
While the onion and celery are cooking,
Prepare the peppers
For whole peppers, (large serving) slice off the top and remove the ribs and seeds from the inside. Shave a very thin slice off the bottom to allow the pepper to stand up level. For a smaller serving cut the pepper in half (cut through the stem then down to the bottom) then remove the seeds and ribs.
This step is optional. Use the peppers raw if preferred:
Fire roast the peppers by placing them directly on a stove top burner. Char as much of the skin as possible. Turn them with tongs to expose all the skin to the flame. You are looking for the skin just to turn black without setting on fire, so keep a close eye on them. This allows you to keep an eye on the onions & celery and the quinoa at the same time.
Once the peppers are completely charred on the outside remove them from the flame and allow to cool a few minutes. With the peppers under running water (just a drizzle of water) remove the skin. It will easily slide off. Don’t worry if there are some small patches left on.
Once the quinoa and celery/onion mixture are ready, combine all the ingredients, except the cheese, in the pot with the quinoa. Taste for the salt level and add more if needed. Spoon the mixture into the peppers and top with feta. If you’re dairy-free leave out the cheese, these have plenty of flavor without it.
I prefer these at room temp but if you want them hot you can heat them in a 350° oven .