The temperatures are still on the warm side at the moment, and the markets are 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 favourite dish from years back – quinoa stuffed bell peppers with ground beef- and decided to try a new, healthier version.
I scooped out 5 peppers, an eggplant and a leftover zucchini half, chopped up the flesh and sauteed it with chilli, 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 these quinoa stuffed bell peppers went in the oven to bake for 30 minutes, I topped it with slices of mozzarella.
Fresh tomatoes would be at least as good, but organic ones are increasingly hard to get, so I went with the canned version. I didn’t use any 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 in the quinoa stuffed bell peppers.
As for the cheese topping, any cheese you like will be fine; I just had some mozzarella open. If you don’t want any cheese, you can easily make this quinoa stuffed bell peppers recipe without or sprinkle some chopped toasted nuts over the finished dish.
If you want to stuffed 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.
Hearty Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers and Eggplant Recipe
- 8 large bell peppers
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 cup quinoa
- ½ cup ground beef
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 medium chili pepper minced
- 1 medium eggplant flesh removed and chopped
- 1 medium zucchini flesh removed and chopped
- 7 ounces fresh mushrooms cleaned and chopped
- 16 ounces whole tomatoes
- 15 ounces black beans drained and rinsed
- ⅓ cup fresh basil chopped
- ⅓ cup fresh parsley chopped
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a medium saucepan, cook quinoa in 1 3/4 cups of lightly salted water or vegetable stock for 20 to 25 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat and fluff quinoa with a fork.
- Cut the top of the peppers and scoop out the seeds. Brush inside with 1 tablespoon olive oil and place them into greased or parchment-lined ovenproof dish. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, until soft but not collapsing. Remove from oven.
- In a large pan, brown beef and saute onions, garlic, chilli, and chopped eggplant in 2 tablespoons olive oil for 5 to 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 the seasoning if necessary. If stuffing is too dry, add reserved tomato juice from the can.
- Fill stuffing into vegetables to the top and finish with thinly sliced or grated cheese.
- Place stuffed vegetables in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.