Monday, January 23, 2012

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers with Lemon-Basil Yogurt Sauce

These peppers are not only delicious. They are also beautiful, satisfying, and healthful. They can be served as a main course, or as a side dish. The yogurt basil sauce is a perfect compliment to this dish, and it can also be used in pastas, over grilled meats, in sandwiches etc. 

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers with Basil Yogurt Sauce
Serves 4
Prep 25 min
Cooking Time 1hr


Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers
4 whole bell peppers 
1/2 large eggplant, peeled and cut into cubes
1 small whole zucchini, cut into cubes
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, small
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
A dash of red pepper flakes (omit or add more according to your taste)
1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 teaspoon of sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon of ground corriender seed
1/2 cup of dried white quinoa
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 1/2 cups of chicken broth
4 tablespoons of shredded parmigiano reggiano cheese

Yogurt Basil Sauce
3/4 cup of plain greek yogurt
1/3 cup of light sour cream
1 garlic clove
1 1/2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 cup of fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Start by placing an over rack in the center of the oven. Turn on the oven to 375F.
Now wash the bell peppers and dry them well. Cut their top (save them for later), remove all seeds, and cut their bottom ever so slightly just so they can "stand" in the pot. Poke their bottom with a pairing knife. Set them aside. Prepare all the vegetables and herbs.

In a heavy bottom skillet heat 3 tablepoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent.  Add the eggplant and zucchini. Stir them around allowing  the vegetables to soften but still keep their shape (about 6 minutes - remember that they will finish cooking in the oven).
At this point you can add the following to the skillet: the red pepper flakes, dried oregano, rosemary, thyme, sweet paprika, ground corriender seed, salt, and the dried quinoa. Stir all the ingredients together and add 1 cup of chicken broth. Turn the heat to medium low. The quinoa should absorve all that liquid and cook half way through (about 6 minutes). Turn off the heat. Add ground black pepper to taste. 

Now that the filling is ready, fill the bell peppers with it and put their tops back on (do not overfill). Place the filled peppers (standing up) in either a baking dish, or a Dutch oven pot.  Add 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth to the pot or baking dish.  Cover it with a lid or alumminun foil, put it in the oven and let it cook until the bell peppers are fork tender, this will take 45min-1hour.
 Now uncover the baking dish, remove the tops from the bell peppers and sprinkle parmigianno cheese on top of each of them. Put the peppers back into the oven and allow for the cheese to melt. Turn off the oven and serve the bell peppers along with the Yogurt Basil Sauce (recipe bellow).

Yogurt Basil Sauce

Add the greek yogurt, light sour cream, garlic cloves, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice,  lemon zest  and basil to a blender or food processor. Blend it untill smooth. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Serve it immediately or keep it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Prepare the peppers and set them aside

Saute onion and garlic until onion is translucent
Add eggplant and zucchini:

After sauteing the vegetables for a few minutes add the Quinoa
Also add the chicken broth

Add the herbs

Add spices, salt and pepper

Cook until broth is absorbed

Fill the peppers, cover them with their top, add the rest of the chicken broth to the bottom of baking pan. Cover baking pan and bring it to the oven
After approximately 45 minutes peppers will be very tender. Remove their tops, sprinkle them with Parmesan and bring it back into the oven so the cheese can melt:

For the sauce:

For the sauce blend all the ingredients until smooth.


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