Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers and Eggplant

The temperatures are still on the warm side at the moment and the markets full of peppers, eggplant and zucchini. So although I am way over summer, I cook what’s in season and continue to experiment with summer veggies. The other day, I remembered a favorite dish from years back – stuffed peppers with ground beef- and decided to try a new less meaty version with quinoa. I scooped out 5 peppers, an eggplant and a left over zucchini half, chopped up the flesh and sauteed it with chili, onion and garlic. I added another zucchini, a can of whole tomatoes, a can of black beans and some fresh herbs, mixed it with the cooked quinoa and stuffed the mixture into the vegetables. Before it all went in the oven to bake for 30 minutes, I topped it up with slices of mozzarella.

Fresh tomatoes would be at least as good, but the organic ones are increasingly hard to get and therefore I went with the canned version. I didn’t use any of the tomato juice left in the can, because I didn’t want my stuffing to get too wet. See how you go, you can always add it towards the end if you feel like you need extra moisture. As for the cheese topping, any cheese you like will be fine, I just happened to have some mozzarella open. If you don’t like any cheese at all, you can easily make this recipe without or sprinkle some chopped toasted nuts over the finished dish.

In case you want to stuff bell peppers only, peel the eggplant the recipe is asking for, chop it up and saute it with the onions, garlic and chili.  This recipe also works with zucchinis. The only downside there is that they flatten out quite a bit when stuffed and baked.

And just to let you know, the vegetarian version was even better than the meaty one I had been thinking about.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 7-8 large bell peppers, preferably yellow or red, or a mixture of peppers and eggplant
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided 
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 chili pepper, minced
  • 1 medium eggplant, flesh removed and chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, flesh removed and chopped
  • 7 oz. fresh mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 15 0r 16 oz. (425g) can whole tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • sea salt and pepper

Method

Preheat oven to 350F (180C).

In a medium saucepan, cook quinoa in 1 3/4 cups lightly salted water or vegetable stock for 20-25 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat and fluff quinoa with fork.

Cut top of peppers and remove seeds. Brush inside with 1 tablespoon olive oil and place them into greased or parchment lined oven proof dish. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until soft but not collapsing. Remove from oven.

In a large pan, saute onions, garlic, chili and chopped up eggplant in 2 tablespoons olive oil for 5-10 minutes over low to medium heat. Add zucchini and mushrooms and saute for another 5 minutes. Add tomatoes without juice, breaking them up with your wooden spoon, then mix in herbs and beans and season with salt and pepper. When everything is heated through and vegetables are tender, add quinoa and adjust seasoning if necessary. If stuffing is too dry, add reserved tomato juice from can.

Fill stuffing into vegetables all the way to the top and finish with thinly sliced or grated cheese.

Place stuffed vegetables in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

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