Monday, November 5, 2012

Vegan & Gluten-Free Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

One of my favorite dishes during the Thanksgiving feast is stuffing. When I saw this twist on traditional stuffing, substituting nutritious Quinoa for the bread,  I had to try it. Although it doesn't happen often, I find it fun to cook a vegetarian dish once in a while. My body craves high amounts of protein at every meal. Usually my vegetarian dishes have lots of cheese, or eggs. This is probably the first vegan dish that I tried that has been able to satisfy my hunger because this amazing little grain is packed full of protein, vitamins, and fiber. Not to mention, it is gluten free. If you've never tried Quinoa, I highly recommend it: takes only 10 to 15 minutes to make, it is more flavorful and nutritious than rice and it is very versatile and filling!

 For the first time making this recipe I omitted the cranberries because Paul was eating with me and cranberries don't agree with him. After chowing down we both determined that the cranberries would have added a necessary flavor dimension, an extra sweetness to compliment the green apples. Since cranberries weren't an option for us, I cursed myself for not thinking to substitute raisins, which also would have been perfect. Another variation I thought would be delicious if you don't want to go the vegan route is to add some ground turkey or lean ground sausage. The fun part about this dish is that it is a creative, healthy spin on a traditional American comfort food, which leaves room for experiment and personalization. I will definitely be visiting this deliciously, satisfying recipe again!

Vegan & Gluten-Free Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers Adapted from Hyvee Seasons Magazine:

Ingredients: Serves 6 (1 bell pepper each)
1 cup low-sodium, gluten free vegetable stock
1 cup fresh apple cider
1 teaspoon fennel seed, lightly crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cups diced celery
1 onion, diced
2 granny smith apples, cored and finely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or raisins)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage (or 2 tsp.crumbled dried leaves)
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp.dried)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
6 medium green bell peppers, tops cut off and hollowed

 1) Prep the bell peppers in the Marinade Express, using the unflavored MX Marinade for 5 minutes. This removes bacteria, dirt, and pesticides from veggies and fruits. Drain the peppers inverted..
 2) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, bring the vegetable stock, apple cider, and fennel seeds to a boil. Add quinoa, cover and allow to simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
 3) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until the onion becomes translucent, about 10 minutes. Add celery, apples, salt and pepper for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are slightly tender.
4) Combine quinoa and sauteed vegetables and fruit. Stir in cranberries (or raisins), thyme, sage and pecans. Spoon stuffing into bell peppers then stand upright in a baking dish.
5) Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until peppers are tender and stuffing is heated through. Serve and enjoy!