Recipe Review: Whole Foods Market's Roasted Bell Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa

>> Friday, April 2, 2010

At my house, I like to do 2 dinner meals a week that are vegan. Not just vegetarian, or lacto-ovo, But vegan. (Meaning no animal products, what-so-ever, in case you didn't know). Which is a fairly recent development.

We had been doing lacto-ovo vegetarian meals once a week. And I felt pretty smug with myself about it. Until I took a free "How To Be a Nutritarian" class at my local Whole Foods Market (and by local I mean 24.1 miles from my house). The concept they are teaching is based on Dr. Joel Fuhrman's books Eat For Health.

There I discovered that for optimum health, humans should be consuming animal-sourced protein on very limited weekly basis. Instead of the thrice daily basis Americans currently practice. Uh-oh. Did I mention we are serious carnivores?

Fast-forward a few weeks later to now. When I planned my our dinner menus for this month and was searching for vegan menu options, I cam across this meal. Since Jeff loves stuffed bell peppers, I thought we could give it a try. My modifications are in red.

Roasted Bell Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa
Serves 6 Prep time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 1 hr. 15 min
There will be looks of envy from the meat-eating crowd when you serve this colorful and delicious entrée of bell peppers stuffed with mushrooms, carrots, spinach, quinoa and cashews. For a beautiful presentation, choose a combination of green, red, orange and yellow bell peppers.

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for oiling the pan
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 pound sliced mushrooms - omitted
1 cup chopped carrots
7 bell peppers (1 cored, seeded and chopped; tops removed and reserved from remaining 6 then cored and seeded)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 pound baby spinach - frozen chopped spinach
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon - omitetd after reading recipe reviews
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and cooked according to package directions 
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews - used pecans, since that is what I had on hand
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until transparent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until softened, 4 to 5 minutes more. Add carrots and chopped peppers, cook until just softened, then add parsley and spinach (in batches, if needed). Let spinach wilt then stir in cinnamon, cumin and cooked quinoa and toss gently to combine. Add salt, pepper and cashews and cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Set aside to let filling cool until just warm.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9- x 13-inch baking pan with oil then set aside.

Divide quinoa mixture evenly among remaining 6 bell peppers, gently packing it down and making sure to fully fill each pepper. Top each pepper with its reserved top then arrange them upright in prepared pan. Cover snugly with foil and bake, checking halfway through, until peppers are tender and juicy and filling is hot throughout, about 1 hour. Transfer to plates and serve.

Per serving (1 pepper/about 10oz/283g-wt.): 250 calories (90 from fat), 10g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 280mg sodium, 36g total carbohydrate (7g dietary fiber, 6g sugar), 9g protein

The review:
To quicken the cooking process, I boiled the peppers a little while making the filling, then baked it in the oven for 1/2 the time called for in the recipe. I loved the texture juxtapositions with the crunch from the nuts mixed with the light texture of the quinoa. The flavor in the recipe as written I found to be a little lacking, so bump up the salt a little bit and add in or increase other spices. Cayenne pepper, cumin, ginger - all would work. Overall, I give it 3 stars as is, bump up the flavor and it gets 5.



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