Baked Red Peppers with Quinoa and Feta

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Baked Red Peppers with Quinoa and FetaPairing roasted red peppers and protein-rich quinoa with corn and tangy feta makes these colorful peppers an excellent meatless dish. Baking them in a hot oven brings out the natural sweetness of the peppers and cooks them in about half the time usually required. It also keeps them delightfully succulent. Pick through the bin to select smaller peppers that will hold about 1 cup of the filling.

Serves: 8
Prep:  10 min
Cook: 56 min
Total: 1 hr 16 min
              
Ingredients

  • 4 thick-walled red bell peppers
  • quinoa pilaf with garden vegetables
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
     

Quinoa Filling:

  • 1 cup white quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth, or water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
     

To Serve:

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper
     

Directions
1. To make quinoa: In a fine-mesh sieve, rinse the quinoa under cool water. Shake to remove as much water as possible.

2. In a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, roast the quinoa, stirring frequently with a wooden spatula. If the damp kernels stick to the pan, scrape firmly to keep them moving. After 5 to 6 minutes, the quinoa will make a crackling sound as the grains start popping. When the sound has almost stopped, after about 3 minutes, remove the pan from the heat.

3. Carefully add the broth or water, standing back to avoid being spattered. Cover the pan and return it to the burner, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Check the grain, adding additional broth or water if necessary. Continue cooking until the grain is translucent, tender, and fluffy, 2 to 5 minutes. Let sit covered for 10 minutes.

4. Fluff the quinoa with a fork to separate the grains.

5. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the carrot, celery, peppers, and onion and cook until the onion is soft, 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the vegetables to the quinoa. Add the corn and mix with a fork to combine.

6. To make peppers: Cut the tops off the bell peppers just below the curved shoulder. Discard the tops and scoop out the seeds and ribs, then coat the inside of the peppers with nonstick spray.

7. In a mixing bowl, combine the Quinoa Pilaf with Garden Vegetables and the feta. Pack this filling into the peppers, mounding it lightly.

8. for serving now Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking dish just large enough to hold the filled peppers with foil.

9. Stand the filled peppers in the prepared pan; they should be almost touching. Pour in 3/4 cup of water. Set a 4-inch square of foil over each pepper, like a little hat.

10. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife easily penetrates the peppers but they are not overly soft. Set the pan on a cooling rack, uncover the peppers, and let them stand for 10 minutes.

11. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and oil. Season with the thyme, salt, and pepper to taste and spoon one-fourth of the mixture over the filling in each pepper. Serve hot or at room temperature.

To freeze:
Set the filled peppers on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate to chill. Wrap the chilled peppers individually in plastic freezer wrap and then in heavy-duty foil. Set the wrapped peppers on a baking sheet and freeze.

To defrost and serve:
Remove the foil and defrost the plastic-wrapped peppers in the refrigerator for 12 to 15 hours. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Unwrap and set the peppers in a foil-covered baking dish just large enough to hold them and let stand at room temperature until the oven is heated. Top each pepper with a 4-inch square of foil and bake for 30 minutes, or until the peppers are tender and a knife inserted into the center of the filling comes out hot to the touch. Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture over the peppers and serve, hot or warm.

Recipe Tips
Make the pilaf using long-grain brown rice in place of the quinoa, if you wish.

Nutritional Facts per serving
Calories     311 cal
Fat     16.9 g
Saturated fat     4.1 g
Cholesterol     12.6 mg
Sodium     491.9 mg
Carbohydrates     32.5 g
Total sugars     6.5 g
Dietary fiber     5 g
Protein     9.4 g

Courtesy of the Rodale Healthy Recipe Finder.

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