these peppers pack a punch!

we love to cook here at the barre, we like to focus on putting healthy & nutritious items into our body to fuel our day….and we sure do love to eat. so finding the perfect balance of delicious and healthy is really key to maintaining our happy, healthy physiques…and we love the hunt for the perfect recipe!

we were incredibly excited to try this surprisingly hearty vegetarian dish when we came across them in the NY Times Wellness blog, and after we made it, we were hooked! these peppers are stuffed with nutritious veggies (or at least the version we made was…details next), requires no skill to make, and is actually a beautiful presentation (not necessary, but bonus!).

most of us are pretty busy people that don’t always have time to run out to the grocery store for specific ingredients, and being one of those people, we decided to take a little creative liberty with this recipe based on what we had on hand. the results were supurb! even better, from here on out, we will refer to these as the perfect pantry clean-out – so take a look at what you have and swap the grain, veggies & basis for pesto based on what you have!

here are the details of our version. see the original recipe on the NY Times blog after the jump.

Stuffed Green Peppers with Mediterranean Quinoa and Pesto
(as you can see, the original recipe calls for yellow peppers…creative liberty!)

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup quinoa
Salt to taste
1 large garlic clove (more to taste – we used ~4)
1 cup fresh parsley leaves (could also use basil or spinach)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
¼ cup walnuts
3 large green peppers, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
2 cups tomato purée from 3 large tomatoes (or purchased tomato sauce)
Italian herbs seasoning
2 ears corn, cooked & cut off the cob (or 1 cup frozen)
¾ pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
½ red onion, diced
½ cup kalamata olives, cut in half
Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook quinoa according to directions (boil water & simmer quinoa until water is absorbed, about 10 minutes)

2. In a blender or food processor, add the garlic and pulse until it is chopped. Add the parsley leaves, cheese & walnuts. Turn on the machine, adding the remaining olive oil. Process until smooth. Add salt to taste.

3. To make your own tomato puree, chop the 3 large tomatoes and add to the emptied blender. Puree & add seasonings to your taste: salt, pepper, Italian herbs seasoning.

4. Combine quinoa with corn, tomatoes, kalamata olives, red onion and pesto in a large bowl.  Stir together & add salt and pepper to taste. Fill the halved peppers with this mixture, and arrange in the casserole. Pour the tomato sauce or purée into the dish. Cover and bake 45 minutes to an hour until the peppers are soft but still hold their shape. Remove from the heat, and serve hot or at room temperature, with some of the tomato sauce spooned over the top.

Yield: Serves six.

Advance preparation: The cooked couscous will keep for three or four days in the refrigerator. The peppers can be made a day ahead and reheated or served at room temperature.

Here’s the original recipe, and basis for the nutritional information: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/30/health/nutrition/30recipehealth.html?_r=1&ref=nutrition

Nutritional information per serving: 281 calories; 2 grams saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 9 grams monounsaturated fat; 3 milligrams cholesterol; 36 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams dietary fiber; 80 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 8 grams protein

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