Being a wannabe vegetarian (honestly, I’m quite fussy with meat and aside from increasing it in my diet lately due to my fitness training, I usually go for vegetarian options over meat), I’ve always loved stuffed peppers. Whenever my Mum and I have made them at home in the past, Cous Cous or rice have always formed the base of the stuffing, so for a protein-rich and Coeliac friendly option I’ve started to make them with quinoa instead. I actually think I prefer them this way.
Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wa) is an ancient grain that’s naturally gluten free. In recent years, its popularity has increased and it’s the perfect gluten free substite for pasta and Cous Cous. It’s much more nutrient-rich unlike the glutinous counterparts too. Many people struggle to warm to quinoa, but this was never the case for me. Aside from a few cooking issues when I first got hold of some, I’ve never questioned the taste or texture. I far prefer it to the Cous Cous in my pre-Coeliac days and I find it much lighter than rice. It’s a great accompaniment to a hot dish, brilliant in summery salads and even makes a great porridge alternative. I’ve even converted my Mum!
For the stuffed peppers, I used a couple of tablespoons of quinoa mixed with basil pesto, pine nuts, red onion, spinach and cherry tomatoes. Topped with a little cheddar cheese, it’s a great dish to make for just yourself or for a dinner party. We’d run out of salad so I lazily ate these on their own, however they’d be fantastic served on a bed of rocket or spinach.
Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
(I made just one for myself, I’d suggest doubling the recipe for two people, or just sharing this along with other dishes)
1 red pepper, halved from top to bottom
1/4 small red onion, finely chopped
5 cherry tomatoes, halved then halved again
6 spinach leaves, chopped finely
Handful of pine nuts
2 tbsp Sacla Fiery Chilli Pesto
2-3 tbsp cooked quinoa
Small block of cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
- Heat the oven to 180°C. Place the pepper halves on a baking tray and place to one side.
- In a bowl, place the quinoa, red onion, tomatoes and spinach. Mix together well.
- Add the pine nuts and pesto and mix well again.
- Spoon the mixture into each pepper half, making sure you push it into the corners.
- Top with the cheese slices and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the pepper has softened.
- Serve and enjoy!