Saturday, June 22, 2013

Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers

Today I packed up my kitchen, and it's difficult to explain the sensation of seeing this room that's become so important and wonderful and productive for me transform into boxes and emptiness. But we're moving to New Orleans this coming week, and I can't wait to set up a new kitchen, along with all the delicious food options and inspirations. It's going to be so lovely.

Here, though, is a simple weeknight recipe I made with an old favorite in mind:  Quinoa and Pistachio Salad with Moroccan Pesto. Instead of roasting the peppers, I stuffed them! I also opted for a tomato flavor over the Moroccan pesto.

Fresh thyme was a key player--tying the recipe together much like the Dude's rug and his living room. The herby aroma elevated the stuffing into a freshly delicious meal.

The tomatoes came from the garden of one of my bosses, and acquiring them kickstarted this whole recipe! Combined with quinoa, chickpeas, tomato puree, parsley, garlic powder, cumin, and the aforementioned thyme, then topped with mozzarella at the end. As it stands, I think it's the last meal I will cook in my kitchen! Not too elaborate, but delicious and cheap and fairly healthy. I will get fancy again sooner or later, but for now, this was a lovely note to go out on.

Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers
Serves 2 - 3.

3 large bell peppers (cut off tops and hollow)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium zucchini, diced
3 small tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup chickpeas
1/4 cup tomato puree
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1/4 cup minced parsley (plus more for garnish)
4 sprigs fresh thyme, minced
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, roughly chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high until shimmering. Add zucchini, tomatoes, and chickpeas and sautee for 5 - 7 minutes until tender.
2. Stir in puree, garlic powder, cumin, parsley, and thyme. Cook--stirring often--for another 3 minutes.
3. Spoon mixture into hollowed-out bell peppers. Set on coated baking sheet (slicing a bit off the bottom of the peppers if needed, so they stand upright. Fill a small bread pan halfway with water and place on bottom rack of oven (set low). Place another rack in the middle of the oven and set the baking sheet with bell peppers on top. Cook for 18 - 20 minutes.
4. Add fresh mozzarella to the top of each bell pepper. Return to oven for another five minutes, until cheese melts.
5. Sprinkle each pepper with minced parsley and serve.

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