A Farmers Market Meal: Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
One of my favorite things about my new digs at the Historic Pearl Brewery is that every Saturday there is a farmers market right outside my doorstep. This past weekend my Mom joined me in checking out the options from local farmers and ranchers. I was delighted by the variety of produce options available this late in the summer season. I picked up some okra, zucchini, precious little onions, grass fed beef, farm fresh eggs and these gorgeous bell peppers in a rainbow of colors.
These peppers were smaller and more delicate than the huge bell peppers I usually see at super markets. A big bag with 6 peppers was only $3, that’s a pretty good deal in my book. I’ve never made stuffed peppers before, but I often drool at recipes online. I’m not much of one for recipes most of the time (excluding baking, when it is much more important to follow a recipe), so I just jumped in with what I had on hand and took a stab at making quinoa stuffed peppers.
In addition to these petite onions, I sauted one zucchini in some olive oil. If I had garlic, I would have included some, but I didn’t have any on hand (still haven’t done a big grocery haul).
Some quinoa cooked in chicken stock, local onions, local zucchini and a bit of Tillamook cheddar plus some time in the oven equals super delicious main course – perfect for a “Meatless Monday”. I served them with a green salad dressed in homemade dijon vinaigrette and butter braised okra (Oh goodness. I hope the market has okra again this Saturday so I can make this recipe and share it with you. I you’re an okra fan, you’ll think this is to die for).
My dear friend Marissa was joining me for dinner, and she was a great sport considering I was cooking for us without much of a plan. It felt great to casually entertain in my new space. I’m looking forward to many more Farmers Market Meals and future girl’s nights in. The dish wasn’t perfect, but it was very tasty. It could have used some additional flavor from fresh herbs like parsley, oregano or basil – but I was all about using what I had on hand that night. I’ll share the recipe below, with some notes about how you can make it even better.
Recipe serves two people as a main dish, plus left overs for one more meal.
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup low sodium chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you’re keeping it vegan)
6 wee bell peppers (or 2-3 average sized bell peppers at your grocer), tops cut off and ribs removed
1 medium zucchini, chopped finely
2 wee onions (or 1/2 an average yellow onion at your grocer), minced
1 oz Tillamook Sharp cheddar (thoughts on this below)
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a medium pan with a tight fitting lid bring the quioa and stock to a boil. Stir a few times, cover with lid and reduce heat to low for 20 minutes (or as directed by the package). While the quinoa is cooking, chop the veggies and saute for 5 minutes over medium heat with a Tbsp of olive oil. Generously salt and pepper the veggies while sauteing. Once the quinoa has cooked, let is sit off the heat for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Fold in the sauted veg. Stuff the prepared peppers with the quinoa and veggie mixture, top with cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 (depending on the size of your peppers. Mine were tiny, so they were done in just over 20 minutes, but I’m thinking more average sized peppers would take a big longer).
Thoughts on how to improve upon this recipe:
– Additional flavor from fresh herbs, garlic, shallots etc would all be welcome additions to the stuffing
– I wished I had mixed some additional grated cheddar in with the filling as well as on top. I had Tillamook slices in the fridge, so that’s what I used.
– Leftover marinara would be an interesting addition if you want a more tangy tomato flavor to your filling.
– Instead of quinoa you could use brown rice, but since it’s sturdier it might require more cooking time and some additional liquid once the peppers are stuffed.
– If you aren’t angling for a meatless monday, ground turkey, sauted sausage, bits of pancetta would be fun ways to include protein.