Friday, February 8, 2013

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Are there foods your family never made when you were growing up? Foods that you knew other kids ate, but you never had them? For me, stuffed peppers is one of those meals that I knew other kids ate for dinner, but my parents never made them. My dad dislikes peppers. He likes the flavor a chopped green pepper gives to my mom's meat sauce, but when he eats a plate of spaghetti with mom's meat sauce on top, he picks out the little bits of green pepper and leaves them in a pile on the side of his plate.
I grew up not liking red pepper. I know I would not have had red pepper at home, so it's probably meals from dining out that I remember little flecks of diced red pepper invading my rice or mixed veggies. I really disliked those little red blobs.
I didn't really start to appreciate and enjoy peppers until SP & I moved in together. He loves peppers. Sometimes, he'll slice a pepper and eat it as his veggie for dinner. He's made me a huge fan of roasted red peppers. So sometimes, when I am trying to figure out a meatless meal, I'll suggest stuffed peppers. In my mind, traditional stuffed peppers are green peppers stuffed with a mixture of ground beef, rice, and tomatoes. We've made peppers stuffed with wheatberries and peppers stuffed with crab & prosciutto. This time, we made quinoa stuffed peppers.
We stuffed red & yellow peppers - I now prefer those to green peppers. Our stuffing was a mixture of quinoa, mushrooms, spinach, carrot, pepper, onion, cumin, cinnamon, and parsley.
I liked these. I didn't love them. They seemed to lack something. SP really liked them. I think that I would have preferred them with a brighter, citrus flavor (lots of lemon juice and zest) instead of the warmer, spicier cinnamon & cumin. I'd make these again, but with lemon.

We used more of each ingredient than the official recipe listed and we could have used a bit more stuffing. We also like to have extra stuffing for on the side. Here's a rough recipe:

6 peppers
1+ cup quinoa, cooked (we make quinoa in our rice cooker)
8-10 ounces mushrooms, sliced
half a smallish bag of baby spinach
3 carrots, grated (recipe said chopped, but I dislike chopping carrots, so since we had the food processor out in order to grate cheese, I used it to grate the carrots)
onion (recipe said red, I used white)

Slice tops off peppers. Remove seeds, etc., from inside and place upright in lightly oiled baking dish. I chopped as much of the pepper tops as I could to add to the quinoa mixture. Saute onions, add mushrooms, add chopped pepper tops, add carrots, add spinach, add quinoa and seasonings, heat through. Spoon mixture into peppers. Cover pepper dish with foil bake for at least an hour at 350 until done.

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