Shauna James Ahern's Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

[Photograph: Penny De Los Santos]

Stuffed peppers are so often full of mushy rice and/or overcooked meat. Yet there's no reason why they need to have such uninspired ingredients, or even any meat at all. Shauna James Ahern's recipe for the dish in Gluten-Free Girl Every Day is, in fact, practically vegan. (Ahern uses a bit of butter in her prep.) The bulk of her stuffing is steamed quinoa enlivened with sweet caramelized onions, yellow raisins, and wholesome kale. She adds a bit of garlic and cumin for earthiness, but otherwise leaves it well enough alone. A hot oven adds char and deeper flavor to the peppers, making this cute entree worlds away from the heavy original.

Why I picked this recipe: I can't stand green bells stuffed with ground beef, so I wanted to see if Ahern's version could transform my opinion on the form.

What worked: The quinoa mixture was delightful--sweet, savory, and filling. It'd work great on its own if you're not up to stuffing peppers.

What didn't: It became clear that this recipe was written for small bell peppers. If you buy eight big ones (like I did), you'll need to double the stuffing recipe (or just save four peppers for another project). My stuffing turned much more crisp than the picture depicts--but I didn't mind it.

Suggested tweaks: Ahern suggests using brown rice or millet if quinoa isn't your thing. Likewise, you could use any small dried fruit instead of raisins here, or walnuts or pecans instead. A bit of parmesan wouldn't be out of place here either.

Excerpted from Gluten-Free Girl Every Day, copyright 2013 by Shauna James Ahern with Danny Ahern. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.

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Shauna James Ahern's Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

About This Recipe

Yield:serves 4
Active time:20 minutes
Total time:45 minutes
This recipe appears in: Shauna James Ahern's Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup caramelized onions
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 bunch Lacinato kale (or any type of kale), stems removed and leaves chopped
  • 8 red bell peppers, cut in half and seeds removed

Procedures

  1. 1

    Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. 2

    Set a large skillet over medium heat. Pour in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until it is softened, about 2 minutes. (Take care to not burn the garlic.) Add the caramelized onions and cook, stirring, until they are heated. Stir in the cumin and cook until it releases its scent, about 1 minute.

  3. 3

    Toss in the quinoa and raisins. Stir until everything is heated. Add the chopped kale and cook until it just wilted. Turn off the heat.

  4. 4

    Coat each of the peppers with the remaining oil. oil. Spoon the quinoa stuffing into the peppers.

  5. 5

    Put the peppers onto the prepared baking sheet. Roast in the oven until the edges of the peppers are a little crisp and the stuffing hot, about 25 minutes.

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