Come Share Our Table – Red Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers with Dried Fruit, Green Olives and Feta

This healthful dish comes on the heels of my latest post about Unctuous Eggs Fried My Mom’s Way.  So completely the opposite of eggs sputtering in hot fat! Do you get me? Sometimes I need food that’s good for my soul, but not necessarily my waistline, and sometimes I need food that will sustain and renew me when I’m feeling tired and worn down

I was inspired to create this recipe by a fitness challenge and journey to wholeness I’m involved in this month with some awesome women from all around the U.S. One of the dinner recommendations was for a bell pepper stuffed with quinoa and grass fed ground beef. I had never made these before, so I decided to take the idea of a stuffed pepper and make it completely my own with ingredients I had available in the kitchen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADid you know that one cup of red bell pepper has almost three times more vitamin C than an orange? If you’d like, you can use all red bell peppers for this recipe. I used yellow, orange and red this time around because that’s what I had on hand. Bell peppers are always abundant in our fridge because my kids like to eat it raw for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Small victories!

I chose red quinoa because I feel it holds up better in dishes like this than white quinoa, but white quinoa would work as well. I also used ground beef tonight, but you could easily substitute ground lamb/chicken/turkey or a protein substitute.

If you’re watching your sugar you can remove the sweetened dried cranberries, or just look for the unsweetened kind. The idea is to have something sweet and tart to counterbalance the saltiness and brininess of the olives. Unsweetened dried cherries would be nice as well.

There’s also lots of yummy fresh parsley and basil in here to give it some brightness and crumbled feta on top for a tangy finish. Enjoy!

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Red Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers with Dried Fruit, Green Olives and Feta

Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS

*I try to use organic, eco-ganic or responsibly farmed ingredients as much as possible

  • 3/4 cup red quinoa
  • 1.5 cup water
  • 1 tsp. olive oil, plus some to coat the bottom of the casserole dish
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. tamari
  • 1 tsp. sherry wine vinegar (other types of vinegar will do)
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup basil, julienned
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup green olives, roughly chopped ( I used Manzanilla green olives stuffed with pimento)
  • 8 bell peppers of various colors
  • crumbled feta cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Rinse the quinoa under some running water in a fine mesh colander for a minute or two, swishing it around with your hand. Add it to a medium saucepan with the water and a big pinch of salt and bring everything up to a boil. Cover the pan, turn the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and let it sit for another 5 minutes. Don’t peek! Fluff with a fork and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile brush the bottom of an 8″x8″ square casserole dish with lightly with olive oil. Set aside.
  3. Turn the bell peppers on their sides and cut the tops off just below the base of the stem. Reserve the tops. Using your hands, remove any white veins and seeds inside. Place them inside the oiled casserole dish. If needed, cut off a little bit of the bottom so that they will stand up in the pan and not fall over.
  4. Cut away any bell pepper around the base of the stems and finely chop. Set aside.
  5. Move your baking rack to the middle part of the oven and preheat it to 475 degree F.
  6. Heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 1 minute. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the ground beef, Italian seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, and tamari. Break up any large pieces of meat and sauté until cooked through and there is no more pink showing, stirring often to continue to break down the meat.
  7. Turn off the heat and add the quinoa, vinegar, parsley, basil, raisins, cranberries, Parmesan, olives, and reserved bell pepper (from the tops). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly.
  8. Fill the bell peppers with the mixture, packing it down as much as possible. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes.
  9. Top with crumbled feta to your taste.
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