I started to write this post before, but was completely sidetracked by my breakfast. Now that I am refocused, let me tell you about these fabulous stuffed peppers I made for Hubs and myself earlier this week!
I’ve been really trying hard to work through what we have in the pantry and freezer before we go.
There is nothing more annoying than moving a box of canned goods and having to pack a cooler because of all of the food I’ve accumulated in my freezer (because, Lord knows, I am not just throwing things away!). All of that is precious space in either my car or the trailer! Normally I’m proud of my well stocked pantry, but when there are only two of you and you maybe underestimated how long all of those cans, grains, and pastas would last, it can be a real struggle to try and use everything up.
Last week I almost polished off my barley, so this week I thought I’d move along to the quinoa and one of my favorite ways to eat it is mixed up with some chicken, cheese, and veggies in a bell pepper. Team that up with some refried black beans (another can gone), a simple salad with a healthy Cilantro-Lime yogurt dressing, and a lovely bottle of Verdejo and we have a winner!
1 chicken breast; poached, cooled, pulled
1/2 C quinoa
3/4 C chicken stock
1/4 sweet onion, diced
dry white wine (or whatever white you have handy and open)
1 can RoTel original
2 C shredded cheese, mozzarella and/or mexican blend
3 T cilantro, minced (reserve 2T for the dressing)
1 lime, juiced (reserve 1/2 for the dressing)
kosher salt & ground black pepper
red pepper flake (optional)
1) Cook quinoa
- Heat a little bit of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat and saute the diced onion until translucent.
- Add quinoa and stir until fully combined and coated by the oil. Stir the quinoa occasionally until you heat a popping sound and smell a nice toasty/nutty aroma. I always toast my quinoa. I think it adds a little bit of extra flavor.
- Pour in about a 1/4 C of white wine; let reduce by half before adding your chicken stock. Bring your pot up to a boil, cover, reduce to simmer and let it be for about 10-15 minutes or until the liquid is gone. Your quinoa, when done should not be done all the way through because we’re going to put it in the oven after we stuff the peppers. It will over cook if you cook it all the way now. You’ll know it’s not done all the way if the liquid is gone and there is still some bite to the grains like pasta.
2) Mix together all of the ingredients for the filling except what was set aside for the dressing. Once seasoned as desired, place in refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
-> Makes enough filling for 6 peppers. I never need this much, but I don’t like decreasing the quantity, so I use the filling for other things for the rest of the week!
3) Prep the peppers (this can be done while the quinoa is cooking)
- Cut the tops off of your peppers. I like to save the tops and serve them with the stuffed peppers, but that’s optional. It’s also good to load the top of your peppers up with cheese, broil them, and serve them just like that too!
- Slide your knife inside your pepper to cut loose the ribs from the flesh of the pepper all the way around. Grab the ball of seeds and pull everything out. It should come out in one nice big piece for the most part. The ribs are that soft white part and rip out very easily, so don’t worry about making it perfect. You can always reach in after and pull anything else out you don’t want or brush out any escaped seeds.
4) Overfill your peppers and place in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.
Next: The Dressing
This is pretty simple. All you’ll need are 1/2 C plain low fat greek yogurt, your reserved amounts of lime juice and minced cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste
1) Mix all the ingredients together. The lime juice should thin the yogurt out to a little bit thicker than your out of the bottle creamy dressing. If you want a thinner dressing, add a touch of buttermilk.
Finally: The Refried Black Beans
Again, I like to keep these as simple as possible. If I have time to make them from dried beans the flavor is untouchable. However we’re shooting for easy and from the pantry, so we’ll start with a can of black beans. Other than the beans you only need about a 1/4 of an onion diced and maybe a 1/4 C of chicken or vegetable stock.
1) Saute the onions until translucent. If they start to brown around the edges that’s ok. The color is not important. As long as they aren’t burnt, you’re only adding more flavor.
2) Add your black beans without draining and stir until warm and soft. Add your stock a little at a time while your beans are cooking until your beans are a little looser than you want. As your beans cook they will thicken.
3) I like my beans with some texture, so to mash them I use the back of my spoon or my rubber spatula. This way it’s not perfect and you still get some chunks of bean. The less perfect here, the better! Just the way I like it!
That’s it! Simple, but BIG flavors. Let me know if y’all try it and if you find any fun modifications that work for you!
Hint: The leftover filling makes great homemade taquitos or works well atop some fresh greens for a nice light lunch.