Quinoa Stuffed Peppers with Pesto

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Stuffed peppers provide a beautiful presentation with their vibrant color and unusual shape.   You can really get creative with what you stuff them with and what sauce you add for extra flavor.  For this recipe, I’m going vegan-style and stuffing with protein-rich quinoa and boosting the flavor with a vegan pesto sauce drizzled on top.

Serves: 3 (1 stuffed bell pepper per person)
Ingredients
  • 1 yellow bell peppers
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 orange bell pepper
The Stuffing
  • 2 cups low sodium broth
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • ½ cup shallot, diced
  • ¼ cup sweet onion, diced
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • ½ cup zucchini, diced
  • 1 tsp fresh black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Vegan Pesto Sauce
  • 2 cups fresh basil, rinsed and dried
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup walnuts or pine nuts
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cut off the top (stem side) of the bell peppers and remove seeds, set top aside
  3. Sauté shallots and sweet onions in oil on medium heat
  4. Add quinoa and stir until lightly toasted
  5. Add chicken broth and bring to boil for 5 minutes
  6. Add green onions and zucchini
  7. Dice up the top of the bell peppers that surrounded the stem
  8. Add the extra, diced bell pepper to the quinoa
  9. Simmer on low to medium heat for an additional 15 minutes until all liquid is absorbed
  10. Stir in garlic and black pepper seasoning
  11. Spoon the quinoa into the bell peppers until full
  12. Lightly spray baking sheet with extra virgin olive oil cooking spray
  13. Place stuffed bell peppers on baking sheet and cook for 15-20 minutes
  14. While cooking, puree all pesto ingredients in mini food processor
  15. Remove from oven and drizzle with pesto sauce
  16. Serve warm and enjoy!
Tip
Make sure you select bell peppers that have a semi-flat bottom and can balance on their own.
All About Bell Peppers
Bell peppers range in color based on how ripe they are.  Their stage of ripeness determines not only the color, but also the flavor of the pepper. A red bell pepper is riper and therefore sweeter and milder than a green bell pepper. More importantly, they also contain eleven times more beta-carotene and four times more vitamin C than green bell peppers.
Comparison of the Nutrients
1 serving, ½ cup, chopped
20 calories
Green Bell Pepper
Vitamin A       4%*
Vitamin C       60%*
Red Bell Pepper
Vitamin A       45%*
Vitamin C       240%*
Yellow Bell Pepper
Vitamin A       2%*
Vitamin C       230%*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
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