I am a big fan of stuffed peppers … stuffed anything really. Stuffing something that is already good really can’t do anything but make that something even better. In this case, crisp bell peppers are turned into a filling and comforting dish perfect for the cold weather.
I’ve used spicy Italian sausage because I wanted a spicy dish – feel free to substitute any variety of sausage (chicken, turkey, sweet, etc) or for the vegetarians, substitute soy crumbles. A nice sage chicken sausage would be lovely in this recipe as well.
*A note on quinoa:
Most boxed or packaged varieties are already rinsed, but I’ve included instructions to rinse in the recipe because I often buy my quinoa bulk at the farmers’ market. Like any whole grain bought bulk, you want to rinse to remove any debris or dirt. Plus, quinoa seeds are coated with saponins, naturally-occurring plant chemicals that can cause a bitter taste and are intended to keep insects from eating the plant.
If you’re using boxed quinoa, a rinse won’t hurt it to be on the safe side. I like to put it in a bowl and stir it around in water, drain in a very fine mesh strainer, and repeat a few more times, making sure the water is clear. Some people suggest soaking, but I find that unnecessary. Lastly, you can cook quinoa in water or broth for added flavor.
- 4 large bell peppers (assorted colors), halved lengthwise and ribs/seed removed
- 1 zucchini, diced small
- 1 small yellow onion, diced small
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups broth (vegetable, chicken, or beef)
- 1 cup dried quinoa
- 1 lb. spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 tsp. olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- Optional – fresh herbs such as sage, parsley, or basil, minced
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Prepare your vegetables by chopping and prepping in bowls. Place the halved bell peppers on an oiled rimmed baking sheet, cut side up.
- Place your quinoa in a bowl and cover with water. Stir and drain through a fine mesh strainer. Rinse and repeat 1-2 times until water is clear.
- Pour the broth in a medium saucepan and add the rinsed quinoa. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until broth is evaporated and quinoa soft.
- As the quinoa cooks, place the sausage in a large skillet and cook over medium heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until browned. Transfer sausage to a large bowl.
- In the same skillet, add the vegetables and cook for about 8 minutes until tender. Season with S/P.
- Add vegetable mixture to the bowl with the sausage. Add the cooked quinoa, olive oil, and Parmesan. Stir to combine; taste and season with S/P as needed. If you want to add fresh herbs, stir them into the stuffing now. Divide the mixture between the bell pepper halves and top with breadcrumbs. Drizzle olive oil on top and bake until breadcrumbs are browned and peppers tender, about 30 minutes. Serve warm.
**If you have extra stuffing, spoon into small baking dishes and place in the oven in the last 15 minutes of cooking, to warm and bake. Serve to those who want more filling