My love of cooking definitely comes from the experiences I had cooking with my mom back at home, and even more so from the incredible responses she always received for her signature dishes (hi Mom!). One dish that really stuck with me (even though we only made it once or twice) was quinoa-stuffed peppers, inspired by a recipe we found on the Whole Foods website.
[Aside: if you ever have a food item and you’re looking for a creative way to use it in a dish, go to http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/ and use their search bar… the recipes there are unfailingly delectable and generally pretty easy to follow!]
Fast forward a few years, and my good friend Sam is telling me she wants to have a small dinner party, featuring stuffed peppers. I told her I’d made them before and knew of a great recipe, which of course was the same recipe she was hoping to use. We went to Whole Foods, grabbed the beautiful produce required for this recipe, and got to work. Prep is about 20 minutes but these bad boys need an hour in the oven, so make sure you account for that if you’re going to follow this recipe! This recipe is completely vegan, but is so tasty that anyone will eat it (I’d bet even our veggie-hating Campus Correspondent, Sabrina, would love it)!
What you’ve gotta have:
- 6 bell peppers
- 1 red onion
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- ¼ pound spinach
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- vegetable stock
- ½ cup roasted cashews
What you’ve gotta do:
- Preheat your oven to 350*F.
- Start by dicing the red onion, and putting it on the stove with the tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan on medium heat.
- Stir occasionally to ensure the onion is evenly cooked. Pour the vegetable stock and quinoa in a covered stockpot on medium-high heat. In the meantime, cut the tops off of the bell peppers (jack-o-lantern style) and core/seed the insides. Set those aside.
- Check on the quinoa – as soon as the mixture is boiling, lower the heat and mix occasionally until the little rings around the grains separate from the grains (you’ll know what I mean when you see it). After 8-10 minutes, when the onions are just starting to become translucent, toss in the chopped carrots, and mix. 3-4 minutes later, add the spinach and cover the saucepan until the spinach wilts. Add in the parsley, mix, add in the cumin and cinnamon, mix, toss in the cashews, and finally dump in the quinoa. Mix. Taste it, and add in more spices to your liking – I love the cinnamon flavor in this recipe so I probably ended up doubling the amount of cinnamon I put in.
- Grease a pan – it’s best to use a small cake pan (9in. x 9in. depending on the size of your peppers) as opposed to a cookie sheet, because the raised sides will keep the peppers upright. Spoon this beautiful mixture into each of the peppers (pack it in, be generous!), and then place them into the pan with the tops covering the stuffing. Cover with aluminum foil, and slide into the oven!
- Wait an hour, pull ‘em out and marvel at their beauty. If you thought the stuffing was good before you put it into the peppers, just wait till you taste it after it’s roasted in a bell pepper for an hour.