stuffed peppers with quinoa & spinach

Whether served as a main dish or as a side, these beauties are delicious and satisfying.  And the perfect offering for the vegetarians among us.  I can remember my mom making stuffed peppers fairly often back in the day.  They were so good but quite different than the typical dish we see today.  They were always formed by filling upright green peppers that had the cap removed.  And the stuffing consisted mainly of browned ground beef and white rice.  What is being proposed here is a sweeter, lighter version of that classic dish.

The two grains used in this recipe are quinoa and barley.  They are simmered in the vegetable broth until tender.  If you want to enjoy this as a gluten-free dish, simply omit the barley and double up on the quinoa.  The final texture will be slightly different, but still totally delicious.

Time to work on those layers of flavor.  The onion and garlic are sautéed in olive oil until translucent.  The mushrooms are then added.  Once tender and seasoned, the tomatoes and spinach are thrown into the mix.  Finally, the cooked grains and a portion of the cheese are folded in.  You now have your tasty stuffing.

It’s time to talk peppers.  I am suggesting that you use red sweet peppers.  That doesn’t mean that you must use them.  You could opt for green peppers.  They have a slight bite when comparing them to the red variety …a mild bitterness.  But they will definitely also hold their shape during the baking process.  I wouldn’t recommend using orange or yellow peppers …their skin is more tender and may not do as well in the oven.

After hangin’ out in the oven for about 30 minutes, sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of each stuffed pepper.

Back in the oven for a few more minutes, let that cheese melt and turn golden brown.

stuffed peppers with quinoa & spinach

Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens 

Packed with whole grains and flavorful vegetables.  Serve as a side or main dish.

Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 14.5 ounces vegetable broth
  • 1/3 cup quick-cooking barley *
  • 1/3 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (about 2 ounces)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms (about 6.5 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach (about 4.5 ounces)
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded Monterey Jack (or pepper jack) cheese (5 ounces)
  • 3 large red sweet peppers

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a medium saucepan bring broth to boiling.  Add barley and quinoa.  Return to boiling; reduce heat to low.  Cook, covered, about 12 minutes or until tender.  Drain, reserving 1/3 cup cooking liquid; set aside.  (If necessary, add additional broth or water in order to reserve 1/3 cup liquid.)

  3. In a large skillet cook onion and garlic in hot oil over medium heat for 2 minutes.  Add mushrooms; cook and stir for 4 to 5 minutes or until tender.  Stir in tomatoes, spinach, the salt, and the black pepper.  Add quinoa mixture and 1/2 cup of the cheese; stir to combine. Remove from heat.

  4. Cut peppers in half lengthwise.  Remove and discard seeds and membranes from the peppers.  Sprinkle insides of peppers lightly with additional salt and black pepper.  Fill pepper halves with quinoa mixture.  Place peppers, filled sides up, in a 3-quart rectangular baking dish.  Pour the reserved cooking liquid into dish around peppers.

  5. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes.  Uncover; top stuffed peppers with the remaining cheese.  Bake, uncovered, about 10 more minutes or until peppers are crisp-tender and cheese is browned.

Recipe Notes

* To make gluten-free version:  Omit the barley and double the amount of quinoa.  Cook as directed.

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