Do you remember your mom’s stuffed peppers? I do. I was just a kid and wouldn’t touch the peppers. No way! I loved the filling, though--and it was so simple. Tomatoes, rice, ground beef, seasonings…I loved that part! My mom gave me a pass and let me skip the peppers without a big showdown, thank goodness! She used green bell peppers, which are good in some things, like sausage and peppers, but to eat them stuffed--they’re just too “green pepperish.” Do you know what I mean? Bitter.
In fact, growing up, my mom always bought green peppers. Were red bells not very common then? I have no idea! Red bells are just green bells that have been allowed to ripen--were growers too impatient back then? In my opinion, green pepper overwhelms most dishes. I know--a lot of you will probably disagree, but red, orange, and yellow bell peppers are so much sweeter. We even love them raw! Plus, they’re good for you:
- They’re great sources of Vitamins C, A, B6 and Folic Acid
- They contain Beta-Carotene and Lycopene
- These are all good things that do good things for you!
- Eat some peppers today. (That’s my PSA for the day.)
I saw these stuffed peppers in the June edition of BBC’s Good Food magazine. It’s one of my all time favorite food mags. Every single issue I have is “well read” and full of dog eared pages and a few cooking spills. Living in the US, it’s a bit pricier to buy here, but it’s well worth it. It’s a large magazine--and I dare you to look at one issue and not find ten recipes you want to try immediately.
The original recipe uses couscous as the base for the stuffing. I opted for quinoa. Haven’t tried quinoa yet? You should! Why? Quinoa is all at once creamy, a little chewy, tastes sort of nutty--and is so good for you:
- It’s related to leafy greens, like powerhouses spinach and Swiss Chard.
- Quinoa is an ancient “grain,” and once referred to as “the gold of the Incas.”
- It’s high in protein and contains “complete protein,” which means it has all 9 essential amino acids.
- Quinoa's a good source of magnesium and riboflavin, reported to help with easing migraines.
- It’s a good source of manganese and copper, two minerals very important in superoxide dismutase enzyme, which is an antioxidant.
- There’s 12 grams of dietary fiber in 1 cup of quinoa.
So you see? This dish is a nutritional powerhouse! The recipe will make a bit more stuffing than you need for the peppers, but the leftovers make a nice light lunch the next day. Also, measurements aren’t exact for the add-ins, so go ahead and eyeball those to your taste. The original recipe uses pine nuts, which were nowhere to be found at TJ’s that day, so pistachios agreed to be stunt doubles.
Mediterranean Style Stuffed Peppers
adapted from BBC Good Food
1 each red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, halved, seeds and membranes removed (leave stems on)
1 1/2 cups dry quinoa
Vegetable or chicken broth (for cooking the quinoa in--I needed 3 cups)
1/2 cup pistachios (this is approximate-you can add more if you like), lightly toasted
1/2-3/4 cup black olives, roughly chopped
Feta cheese (about 3/4 cup, divided) (I used an herbed feta from Trader Joe's)
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup fresh basil, shredded (stack leaves, roll them up, and slice across for ribbons)
Heat oven to 400.
Rinse your quinoa and prepare according to package directions--using your choice of broth in place of water.
Place the prepared peppers on a plate and microwave on medium for about 5 minutes, until slightly soft.
Place them on a baking tray, open side facing up.
When the quinoa is done, stir in the remaining ingredients, leaving some of the feta aside to sprinkle over the top of the peppers.
Stuff the peppers--really pack them full, you'll have more than enough stuffing!
Top with the rest of the feta.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the feta looks browned and delicious.
Serve with a nice green salad, if you like.
These aren’t your mom’s stuffed peppers! Well, not my mom’s, anyway. If old school stuffed peppers make your spine tingle--in a not so good way, give these a try!