Veggie-Loaded Stuffed Bell Peppers
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Stuffed peppers are a classic, but what if you don’t want to make them with ground beef? Enter these veggie-loaded stuffed bell peppers, courtesy of cookbook author and food blogger Alexandra Stafford. They’re made with quinoa and all the summer produce, but they're just as satisfying and cheesy as the original.
“[I was] inspired by a recipe I made last fall,” Stafford writes, “for blistered poblano peppers stuffed with corn and quinoa from Leigh Belanger’s My Kitchen Chalkboard.”
Psst: You can easily scale this recipe up or down as needed.
Alexandra (you can call her Ali) Stafford is best known for her popular food blog, Alexandra's Kitchen. You may also be familiar with her cookbook Bread Toast Crumbs, cooking tutorials at Alexandra's Kitchen, or her Instagram feed @AlexandraCooks featuring mostly simple, always seasonal, delicious dishes. She recently launched an online cooking class subscription series on Airsubs!
6 large bell peppers, halved and cored (stems intact, if desired)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup quinoa
1 onion, diced
1 hot chile pepper, minced (optional)
1 or 2 zucchini, diced (about 2 cups)
2 ears corn, kernels removed
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
6 scallions, finely sliced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (about 1 cup)
12 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cubed
Chopped basil or chives, to garnish (optional)
Fresh lemon juice, to garnish (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 475°F convection roast. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the peppers cut-side-down on the baking sheet; drizzle with oil and season with salt. Transfer to the oven and cook until the peppers begin to blister, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the peppers over and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan filled with water to a simmer. Add a big pinch of kosher salt. Cook the quinoa until tender, 9 to 12 minutes, or according to the package directions. Drain through a fine-mesh sieve. Set aside.
3. In a large skillet over high heat, heat the olive oil until it shimmers. Add the diced onion and chile, if using, and immediately lower the heat to medium; season with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onion softens and begins turning translucent, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the diced zucchini and cook, just until the zucchini loses its rawness, about 2 minutes. You don’t want the zucchini to turn to mush; it’s nice when it has some texture here. Add the corn and cook for about 1 minute more. Turn off the heat, then add the tomatoes, scallions and cilantro.
5. Add the quinoa and stir to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Fold in the Monterey Jack.
6. Spoon filling into the cavities of the peppers. Don’t be afraid to really pack them full—it’s OK if the filling is heaped in a mound in each pepper. You may have a little extra filling on hand; it’s delicious on its own. Save it for another day or eat it on the side. Transfer the peppers back to the oven and cook until the cheese begins to melt and the vegetables begin to brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
7. Garnish with fresh chopped basil or chives and a squeeze of lemon juice, if desired.
Note: If your oven doesn’t have a convection setting, that’s OK. You may need to cook the peppers slightly longer to get them blistered (or raise the oven temperature to 500°F and keep an eye on them).