Here is something you may not know about me. In the shadow of my former life, I was a vegetarian for approximately 15 years. I won’t bore you with my philosophical reasons from long ago, nor will I regale you with my decision to return to the “dark” side. The point is that while I am technically a carnivore, I don’t really eat like one. In fact, now that the summer months are upon us, I rarely eat meat at all. My husband on the other hand…a very different story. He isn’t home for many meals, though, so I haven’t really bothered to stock the freezer with meat, which means he is subject to my wily vegetarian ways.
Today, I thought I would share a new recipe that is not a dessert, rather, an inspired vegetarian dinner creation, entitled Quinoa Stuffed Peppers…and it’s actually husband approved. Now, I have to admit, that I created this on the fly, so, you may want to fine-tune some of your measurements.
In case you have never heard of Quinoa, I will give you a little Quinoa 101. Most people think this is a grain, but really, it’s a seed (which makes it gluten free). If you are looking for a high quality protein, Quinoa is your substance. It contains all nine- essential amino acids that are the building blocks of protein. It’s high in fiber and is super for those dieting individuals who shun rice or other carb-like grains. It has a chewy rice consistency with a nutty like flavor. Moreover, it’s available in the grocery store (check the organic or health food aisle). You can use Quinoa in lieu of rice in any recipe as it’s great for stir-fries, or Mexican Fiesta night (check my April entry about that) with black beans and a little melted cheese.
Quinoa takes very little time to prepare-approximately 8-10 minutes. This inspired recipe also took very little prep time, and was so delicious. In fact, the husband asked for leftovers.
Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
4-green or red peppers (I used organic green peppers)
1-cup quinoa (before preparation)
¼- cup fat reduced feta cheese (you can increase the amount)
(If you have a dairy allergy, you can replace the feta cheese with avocado, different flavor but very delicious)
½ -cup chopped broccoli (I microwaved this)
1/4 -1/2 cup black beans (I used leftover from Mexican Fiesta night and it had a little corn mixed in)
2 TBSP wheat germ (you can use bread crumbs, but the wheat germ is super packed with vitamin E)
4 TBSP tomato sauce (again, you can increase this if need be)
Onion powder, salt, oregano (season to your liking, I use a lot of onion powder)
1-2 Tablespoons tomato sauce
1 TBSP wheat germ/2-3 tsp. parmesan cheese (mix these together in a bowl)
1TBSP cheddar cheese (optional)
Again, if you have a dairy allergy-eliminate the cheese or use soy cheese.
Prepare the Quinoa according to the package (there will be some leftover if you are only making 4 peppers).
Once the Quinoa is cooked and cooled a bit, scoop about half the amount into a glass bowl.
Mix in the feta cheese (it may melt a bit which helps bind the whole thing together).
Add the sauce, beans, wheat germ, broccoli, and mix. The mixture should be able to stick together.
Cut the tops off the green peppers and clear out the seeds. Stuff each pepper to the top (leave a little space to put sauce and topping). Place standing up in an 8x8 glass-baking dish.
Spoon the 1-2 TBSP tomato sauce over the mixture. (Tomato sauce is a personal taste, my husband does not like a lot of sauce, but you may, so play with it).
Bake for about 35-40 minutes (depending on your oven) until peppers are soft (but not mushy).
Take them out of the oven, and sprinkle with a little cheddar cheese, followed by wheat germ and parmesan mixture.
Put back into the oven for 30 seconds on broil…be careful they brown really fast!!!
Serve with veggie chicken nuggets. Try Gardein brand. They are all natural, (no eggs or dairy) and simply one of the best chicken nugget substitutes I have had.