One of my favorite recipes from childhood is one for stuffed bell peppers. (We love them so much both my mom and dad have their own versions!) I've been experimenting with a quinoa stuffed version and have settled on this one as a great meatless approach to stuffed peppers.
Although quinoa looks like a grain, it's actually a seed, native of South America, gluten-free and high in protein. It loves dairy. Milk, farmers cheese, cheddar cheese—all go well with quinoa.
This is a rather simple dish, not that many ingredients, and is flexible in the ingredients. You can use poblano chiles instead of bell peppers for a spicy version. Or add some cooked Mexican chorizo to the stuffing for a meatier take. Want to use homemade beans? Here's how to make them ahead on the stove or in a pressure cooker.
Personally I love the more vegetal taste of the green bell peppers with this dish, but any color will do. You can also stir in some corn or toasted sunflower seeds.
Cheesy Quinoa Black Bean Stuffed Bell Peppers
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa (white or red or both)
- 6 large bell peppers, any color
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
- 4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, 2 cups for stuffing, 2 cups for topping
- 3 to 4 green onions, finely sliced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 cup loosely packed chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Cook the quinoa
Place 1 cup of quinoa, 2 cups of water, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes, covered. Spread cooked quinoa out in a baking dish to cool quickly.
Steam the bell peppers
Cut the top 1/2 to 1 inch off of the bell peppers and remove the core and seeds inside. (If you want, you can finely chop the pieces of good bell pepper you've removed and include them in the stuffing, otherwise, save them for another use.)
Fill a large pot with an inch of water. Place a steamer rack in the pot, place the pepper shells on the steamer rack, cut side up. Bring to a boil, cover and steam the peppers 5 to 10 minutes, until they begin to soften.
Make the filling
In a large bowl mix the cooked quinoa, drained black beans, 2 cups of the grated cheddar cheese, most of the green onion (save some for topping), cumin, and cilantro if using.
Stuff the bell peppers
with the stuffing you've prepared. You should have plenty of stuffing, you can pack it and mound the stuffing in the peppers. Place 1/4 cup of water at the base of the peppers.
Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes. Then remove from oven, uncover, top with the remaining 2 cups of cheese, and return to the oven to cook, uncovered, until the cheese has melted about 5 to 10 minutes.
Sprinkle with remaining finely sliced green onions to serve.