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.
- 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
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
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.
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.
Coat each of the peppers with the remaining oil. oil. Spoon the quinoa stuffing into the peppers.
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.