Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sweet Baby Peppers--Quinoa Stuffed

I must admit that, when it comes to food, I do make a lot of compulsive shopping. Mostly it concerns fruits and vegetables. I go to grocery stores without any plan what to buy. I just look which of the sold produce looks fresh and appetizing. And when I see them so colorful and fresh I buy them in huge quantities just for their look and I will worry at home what to make of them. Unfortunately, some of the vegetables, delicate cilantro for example, sometimes go bad in a drawer of my refrigerator. Sometimes my capacity is just not large enough to use everything I buy, although my diet is mostly vegetarian. But sometimes such shopping leads to culinary inspirations and new discoveries.

Two days ago, I walked in the Asian grocery store where I buy many of my vegetables and I saw bags of baby bell peppers. They were perfect, shiny, and colorful. They were the size of hot peppers or chillies. I had no idea what to do with them, but I grabbed the whole two-pound bag. I came back home and the only dish that came to my mind was stuffed pepper. But because they were so unusually small I thought about a special stuffing--quinoa, which is also tiny. I added fresh oregano, and feta cheese, to spice up this rather mild grain. I used a generous amount of fresh black pepper but did not add any salt as feta is very salty, although you may add extra salt, depending on your taste. During the baking a bit of stuffing got out of the peppers but nevertheless we enjoyed this simple gluten free dish very much.

Sweet Baby Pepper--Quinoa Stuffed
(Serves four)

2 lb baby peppers,
1 cup cooked quinoa (1/2 cup of raw quinoa)--I used the multicolored organic quinoa,
1/4 lb Feta cheese,
1/2 bunch fresh chopped oregano (about 1/4 cup),
freshly ground pepper,
1 garlic clove, minced,
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil,
fresh parsley leaves, chopped.

1. Cook quinoa according to instruction--one part quinoa and two parts of water. Let it cool down.
2. Wash and dry the peppers. Cut the ends with the stems, remove seeds and membranes from inside.

3. Preheat oven to 400F.
4. Put feta cheese in a medium bowl and using a fork or fingers make small crumbles. Add quinoa, pepper, garlic, chopped oregano, and mix well until a smooth and sticky paste forms.

5. Stuff each pepper with quinoa paste.

6. Pour oil and about a quarter cup of water on the bottom of a medium oven-proof dish and place peppers on it. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10-15 minutes until the peppers dry out a little bit.

Serve with chopped parsley on top and accompanied by green salad with mustard dressing.