Every time I’ve made stuffed peppers it’s been disappointing. I always envision the stuffing with a variety of flavors and cheese spilling out everywhere, what I’ve gotten in the past is dry, overcooked, and full of tomato sauce, not cheese! A few weeks back Brandon told me he was craving stuffed peppers, it has been years since I’ve given them a go, instantly my thoughts turned back to my edible but disappointing attempts. I tried to push his request out of my mind but when Brandon cares enough to request something from the kitchen it is hard for me not to make it.
While at Trader Joe’s last week I found a bag of tri-colored organic peppers for a reasonable price and instantly I put them in my court. We love peppers but I try very hard to only eat orangic peppers and since they are so expensive them don’t make it into our home too often. As soon as I bought these peppers I started dreaming about what I could make with them (I know I’m crazy…) and after pushing several ideas out of my mind I settled on stuffed peppers, the only problem, how would I make them fulfill my dreams about stuffed peppers?
I think I finally came up with a solution, these peppers are just what I wanted. I mixed up the traditional take at stuffed peppers by substituting quinoa for rice and adding diced tomatoes but omitting the normal tomato sauce on top. I also put a layer of cheese through the middle of the peppers and on top! I was so pleased with the outcome, I think you will be too!
Quinoa, Beef, and Cheese Stuffed Peppers
For the Quinoa:
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 bay leaf
- dash of cayenne
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1 cup Quinoa
For the filling
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1 large shallot or medium onion
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 tsp. parsley
- 1/2 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- 1 cup of parmesan cheese
- 6-8 Peppers (any color you like)
- 1 cup shredded cheese (sharp cheddar, mozzarella, jack, etc.)
- **flour tortillas to fill with stuffing for kids who don't like stuffed peppers (maybe mine are the only ones...)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and make sure the oven rack is in the middle of our oven.
In a small saucepan bring the beef broth and seasonings to a boil, add quinoa, cover, reduce heat to medium low and cook for 20 minutes.
While the quinoa is cooking prepare the peppers by washing and cutting off the tops. Dice up the tops of the peppers (throwing out the stem) and reserve. Place the peppers snuggly into a 9×13 inch pan and set aside until the stuffing is ready.
Heat a large skillet to medium high heat. Add olive oil, diced pepper tops, and shallots, sauet until golden and add ground beef. Cook until beef is no longer pink. Add parsley, oregano, chili powder, and garlic. Mix into meat until thoroughly combined and stir in tomatoes (no need to drain.) When the quinoa is cooked mix it into the meat mixture and removed from heat. Stir in the parmesan cheese until evenly distributed and melted.
Fill each pepper half full of the quinoa mixture. Place a 1 tablespoon of cheese on top of the filling and fill the pepper the rest of the way. Once all the peppers are filled top with remaining grated cheese. Place in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbling! Enjoy with bread and a salad.
*These can be prepared and placed in the refrigerator up to 8 hours in advance. When ready to bake preheat the oven and cook as directed, increasing the cooking time to appoximaely 40 minutes.
**I don’t know about your kids but mine aren’t a huge fan of stuffed peppers so I put their filling in a flour tortilla and served it as a burrito, they were perfectly happy!