Every bite of this versatile, delicious dish delivers taste, protein and nutrients. Fresh bell peppers are filled with quinoa and vegetables, then baked with a topping of mozzarella, surrounded in juicy tomatoes. Serve with seasonal vegetables, change it up and substitute leftover meat for lentils.
QUINOA AND VEGETABLE STUFFED BELL PEPPERS
Yield: 6 servings
4 large bell peppers, cut in half, seeded
1 - 1/2 cups multi-colored quinoa, rinsed
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian (flat) parsley
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped baby Bella mushrooms
1/2 cup cooked lentils*
1 eggplant, sliced 1/4-inch slices
1 - 29 oz. can 100% Natural whole peeled tomatoes, undrained (Hunt's, Muir Glen)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
*Optional: 1/2 cup chicken, pork or beef
Cook the quinoa according to the package directions; set aside. Slice eggplant and lightly salt slices; set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F; line a 9 x 13 baking dish with parchment paper. Place pepper halves cut side up in the baking dish.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery, sauté for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and 1/2 can of tomatoes; lower heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
Add the cooked vegetables to the quinoa; stir in the lentils (or meat) and season with salt and pepper to taste. Generously stuff halved peppers with quinoa mixture, pour the remaining 1/2 can of tomatoes into the baking dish; top with a slice of mozzarella.
Add slices of eggplant; cover with foil.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until peppers are tender, then remove foil and broil for 5 - 6 minutes. Serve peppers with juice.