Wednesday, April 29

Fruity Quinoa Stuffed Peppers Are Here to Stay

quinoa stuffed peppers

When I first wrote about quinoa two years ago, many of you empathized. You too had gone to a supermarket and asked someone where you could find the kwi-NO-ah. Not anymore. Quinoa (pronounced keen-WAH) is no longer just the baby of vegans; it has gone mainstream.

Case in point: the Point Loma, CA Trader Joe's last Sunday. As I was looking for some whole wheat couscous, I overheard the guy next to me say to his wife, "Hey, hon. Is this the keen-WAH you want?" He pronounced it perfectly, without the slightest hesitation. Of course, I had to look. No, he wasn't dressed in a chef's jacket and orange Crocs. In fact, he was a military guy --there's a naval base in Point Loma -- tall and muscular with a crew cut. And his carriage had lots of red meat and eggs in it, not tofu or sprouts.

I couldn't help but think what a great poster child he would be for the Whole Grains Council. I suddenly envisioned the commercial: a buff Navy guy pushes away his breakfast Wheaties and eats a bowl of quinoa instead. Then the camera cuts to him commandeering a naval ship or jumping out of an aircraft into the ocean for a dramatic rescue. Then the voice-over says: Quinoa. The REAL breakfast of champions. Then it ends with the camera zooming in on the guy in his white sailor's uniform, which every woman in America will find both sexy and endearing. Oh, yeah, baby. This is golden.

uncooked quinoa

What makes quinoa so special? Quinoa is high in complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. But don't eat it just because it's good for you; eat it because it's just plain good. Though quinoa is technically a seed, it is used as a grain. Cooked quinoa is delicately fluffy with a mildly nutty flavor and can be used in dishes ranging from salads and soups to cereals and stuffing.

My current favorite is today's recipe for healthy fruity quinoa stuffed peppers. I have made these stuffed peppers several times now, experimenting with different ingredients, and this version is the winner. Nutrient-rich colored bell peppers are the vessel for a flavorful and textured quinoa stuffing that is studded with chewy apricots, tangy cherries, and crunchy pistachios. Pair with side salad for a substantial vegetarian meal, or serve as a side dish with a chicken, pork, or seafood entree.

If the Whole Grains Council turns me down, I think I'll head straight to the Naval base. After all, I just bought this adorable crisp white and navy sun dress that I'm just dying to wear.

colored peppers

Fruity Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Makes 4-6 servings
Print recipe only here.

1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus a little extra for drizzling the stuffed peppers
1 large shallot, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1/2 cup dried Turkish apricots, diced
1/3 cup dried tart cherries, chopped
1/4 cup unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger
a generous amount of salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, cilantro, or parsley (my favorite is mint)
6 small (about 3-4 inches tall) or 4 large (about 5-6 inches tall) red, yellow, or orange bell peppers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Pour the uncooked quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve; rinse and drain. (This helps remove some slight natural bitterness from the grains). In a medium saucepan over high heat, add quinoa and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer, and cover until all of the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. (If the water has evaporated before the quinoa is cooked, just add a bit more.) The quinoa will be done when the grains have turned partially white, and the spiral-like germ of the grain is visible. They should maintain a slight crunch when eaten. This will yield about 2 cups cooked quinoa.

In a small skillet over medium heat, warm 2 teaspoons olive oil. Add shallots and celery; saute 2-3 minutes, or until shallots are translucent. Add diced apricots and cherries, and saute 1-2 minutes. Add pistachios, cinnamon, ginger, salt and pepper, and fresh herbs. Stir together and heat through. Place in a large bowl. Add cooked quinoa, and toss until well combined. Taste the stuffing and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Wash and dry the peppers. Using a pairing knife, remove the stem, core and seeds. Divide the stuffing equally among the peppers. Place stuffed peppers in a casserole or similar baking dish and drizzle the tops with 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until peppers are softened and wrinkly and a few brown spots appear on the skin. If the stuffing is browning too much, cover the tops of the peppers with a piece of aluminum foil. Serve hot or at room temperature. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs, if desired.

You might also like these other healthy whole grain dishes:

Mediterranean Wheatberry Salad with Lentils and Chickpeas

Shrimp, Pineapple, and Kashi 7 Whole Grain Pilaf Salad

Warm Bulgur Salad with Beets, Fennel, and Oranges

Here are more great stuffed pepper recipes:

Kalyn's Southwest Stuffed Peppers
Psychgrad's Orzo Stuffed Peppers
Susan's Stuffed Peppers

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Christina said...

What a hilarious commercial idea, I love it!

And I also love quinoa, especially with grilled zucchini and pork and cumin.

Oh, and I don't think I've posted here before. I like you blog. My favorite recipe so far is the orange date bread. Yum!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

An interesting and original recipe! I love your idea!



Kristen said...

Oh yum! I can't wait for peppers to come into season now!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Great recipe. I do something similar with stuffed peppers except I use couscous in mine and add a little feta cheese. Yours have way more fruit - and are way more nutritious!

I have tried quinoa, and would like to eat more of it, but unfortunately, it doesn't agree with me. It was a huge disappointment, but I found it gave me weird reflux problems. I get the same thing from bananas. My body is weird.

Anonymous said...

The flavors sound so light and bright. Great way to stuff a pepper!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Good grief Susan with an opening like that I wouldn't be surprised to see folks - well women anyway - begging for quinoa! Seriously, you should call quinoa up and sell them your add or find out who their ad agency is and sell it to them.

Love this stuff even without the buff Navy guy. Must try the stuffed peppers.

Unknown said...

These look beautiful and so tasty!
Love the idea about the commercial; I laughed out loud, but I bet it would get people to buy quinoa!

Kara said...

Susan, you are absolutely onto something with that commercial idea. Although - quinoa (correct pronunciation or not) is not required... just a tall and muscular uniformed man.

Sadly, after one of your previous quinoa recipes, I went searching for the elusive grains to no avail. (although it did lead us to purchase TJ's whole wheat couscous) That was at least a year ago so I will have to try again as these stuffed peppers are gorgeous.

Soma said...

That is one unique & healthy idea. I have not bought quinoa yet.. but i will soon do. have it on my list already.

joe@italyville said...

looks delicious Susan... and the photos are great!

Michelle @ Find Your Balance said...

Nice! I love this stuff. I recently found a great combo: quinoa, roasted sweet potato puree and coconut. Mmmmm

Heather said...

sounds delicious! i really need to try this quinoa stuff!!

Cara said...

Another quinoa lover here! The fruit and nut combination here sounds great.

Unknown said...

sounds the idea....i wanna try these stuffed peppers...great photos....right away i'm gonna get the ingredients from and try these.

Culinary Wannabe said...

Do you work in advertising - cause that commercial would sell me! :) I love how pretty the stuffed peppers look. Fancy without a lot of fuss!

Kalyn Denny said...

Great idea to put quinoa in stuffed peppers. I have to admit, I haven't cooked with it nearly enough!

Manggy said...

Hahaha! Looks like someone got a little carried away conceptualizing advertisements there! :) I have wanted to make stuffed peppers for the longest time. These are a great variation on the usual rice! :)

Eve Fox said...

these look delic!

Dana said...

Love the sweet and savory combo here. I make a quinoa stuffed pepper too, but this looks better.

Giff said...

I'm going to have to make this. I haven't tried using quinoa this way, and the use of fruit sounds like it would pair up really well. thanks!

Stephanie from Cupoladua Oven said...

This sounds like a new spin on traditional stuffed peppers! I'm going to give this recipe a try. I love how it uses quinoa instead of rice. I love figs, and I bet they would be great in this recipe too. Thanks!

Karen said...

Apricots, cherries and pistachios? Wow, put that in a bell pepper and it would explode in your mouth. It sounds SO good. Cute post, Susan... I like your idea for a commercial - you ought to pitch it ;)

Coffee and Vanilla said...

Susan, that is very interesting recipe. I just tried quinoa once and it did not come out... with pomegranate and pine nuts. I want to give it second try, so I may try your recipe... Looks soo yummy :)

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Do you know that because of one of your posts I actually bought quinoa for the first time a while ago?! I really enjoyed it and here's another great recipe to use it!

Dragon said...

I love the addition of dried cherries to this dish. It is so colourful!

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

Sounds fabulous and so healthy.

Anonymous said...

Mmmmm, I love quinoa. A stuffed pepper with it sounds heavenly and I love the story about the Navy man. Perfect!

Abby said...

I just bought my first bit of quinoa at the farmers market, but I haven't decided what to do with it. Your recipe sounds great for this (oddly) summer-like weather we're already having down here.

Ivy said...

The fruit sound like a great addition to this very healthy dish.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

christina-I'm glad it made you smile. Thanks for your kind words too!


kristen-This is worth the wait!

sdocook-Oh, that's unfortunate.

duodishes-Glad you like it.

tanna-:) You're sweet.

lynda-Oh, I'm happy to hear that.

kara-You an buy it online too. You might want to try that.

soma-Put it on the list!

joe-Many thanks.

michelle-Oh, that sounds heavenly.

heather-Yes, you do!


dawn-Oh, that's terrific!

ashley-That's my kind of cooking: fuss-free.

kalyn-You really must. It's wonderful.

mark-Yeah, maybe just a little. ;)


dana-I love sweet and savory too.

giff-I really love the combo of flavors.

stephanie-Oh, figs would be sensational. Great idea that I'll have to try in the fall!

karen-It really is an amazing combo of flavors.

margot-Hope you do!

cookie-Really? I love to hear that! Thanks.

dragon-Me too. They're so deliciously tangy.


kate-thanks a bunch!

abby-Perfect timing, then! Enjoy!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

ivy-Yeah, it adds more vitamins and antioxidants, for sure.