Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Quinoa Stuffed Pepper

I'm a huge fan of out of the ordinary ingredients. The problem? They usually languish in the fridge or pantry for months afterward while I search for another way to use them.

In an effort to entertain myself on a weekend afternoon, I did a much needed fridge, freezer, and pantry clean out. I checked dates and chucked whatever expired. And I made a list of what I had in the pantry. Then I tried using some of it before buying something else.

I don't necessarily consider quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) to be a weird ingredient, but it's not something I reach for every day. I had about a half a cup just hanging out in the back of the pantry, so Everyday Food's Stuffed Red Peppers with Quinoa, Provolone, and Walnuts made perfect sense to me. It was a little time consuming, but it was a great vegetarian meal. I didn't even miss the meat that's typically in stuffed peppers.

If you're not sure where to find quinoa, you cbulk an usually find it for cheap in bins of health food stores and Whole Foods. I bought mine at Trader Joe's in the aisle with the pastas and such. It was in a box.

Stuffed Red Peppers with Quinoa, Provolone, and Walnuts

4 red peppers
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground coriander
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup quinoa, rinsed really well
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup coarsely grated age provolone (4 ounces)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice off a thin layer from the base of the pepper so it lays flat. Slice off the top of the pepper, remove the stem, and chop finely. Remove the seeds and ribs from the pepper.

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, coriander, and chopped red pepper tops, season with salt and pepper, and cook until onion has softened -- about 5 minutes.

Add quinoa and cook for about 1 minute. Add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until quinoa is tender and water is absorbed, about 11 to 13 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley, walnuts, and 3/4 cup provolone. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide the quinoa mixture among the four peppers. Place in a 2-quart baking dish, cover with foil, and bake until peppers are tender, about 1 hour. Uncover, top with the rest of the cheese and bake until the cheese melts, about 10 minutes more.

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