Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

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stuffed pepeprs

Grandma Chava used to make amazing stuffed bell peppers and stuffed cabbage leaves. She passed away when I was only twelve years old, so my memories of her are dull and scattered, but some of the sharpest memories are food memories. Grandma was an amazing cook. She stuffed her vegetables with a mixture of rice, tomatoes and seasonings, and just like all her other dishes, something about the way she seasoned food made it taste wonderful.

Grandma belonged to a different generation, a generation of women who worked hard in the kitchen, cooked without recipes, and created masterpieces out of the simplest ingredients. There were no blogs back then, no fancy grains and high-end oils, yet her food tasted so good, some flavors linger even after 30 long years.

My stuffed bell peppers recipe is different. It’s made with healthy quinoa and extra-virgin olive oil. It’s delicious. It’s also pretty and elegant, especially if you use several different colors. A tasty side dish, it is filling enough to serve as a main dish, accompanied by steamed veggies or a salad.

But it’s not nearly as good as grandma’s.

Makes 5 peppers

Total time: 1 hour
Prep: 10 minutes
Bake: 45 minutes
Rest: 5 minutes

Ingredients
Olive oil cooking spray
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 cup dry quinoa (or 2 cups cooked quinoa)
5 large red bell peppers
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 (8-oz) package button mushrooms, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with foil and spray with nonstick spray.

2. Toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden, about 5 minutes, stirring often.

3. Cook quinoa: Rinse quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer to get rid of its bitter coating. Place quinoa and 1 1/2 cups water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to medium-low and cook 17 minutes, until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender.

4. Remove tops of peppers, core and seed them. Slice a very thin slice off the bottom, leaving the bottom closed, so that the peppers will remain upright in the baking dish.

5. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and mushrooms and cook 5 minutes, until soft and most of the liquids have evaporated. Add garlic, cumin, salt and pepper, and cook 1 more minute. Remove from heat. Stir in cooked quinoa, parsley and toasted pine nuts.

6. Fill each bell pepper with the mixture, packing it in, and place in the prepared baking dish. Cover with foil, and bake 30 minutes. Uncover, lightly spray with olive oil cooking spray, and bake 15 minutes more, until the tops are golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

PS. The quinoa filling is an excellent side dish all by itself.

Nutrition per serving
Calories 314.5
Total Fat 13.8 g
Saturated Fat 1.3 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 233.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 42.2 g
Dietary Fiber 5.6 g
Sugars 3.6 g
Protein 9.7 g
Weight Watchers Points Plus: 9 points