These Spicy Quinoa Stuffed Peppers are a healthy, flavorful meal that is easy to make and tastes amazing.
As someone who was raised on white rice and boxed pasta, the idea of wheat and whole grain substitutes can be a bit daunting. Throw an item into the mix that I still can’t pronounce correctly without thinking I’m saying it wrong and we are talking science fiction. But walking down the path of culinary righteousness and clean living will inevitably lead you to the quinoa bus stop and man, you have to stop there.
As with any new food experimentation, some things you will like while others you will never try again and some things you just need to give a second chance because you had no idea what you were doing the first time you cooked them. It’s not their fault you didn’t realize they have no flavor of their own, that they are little flavor thieves and need to steal from what tastes good next to them. Quinoa is such a criminal and if you simply cook it in some broth and mix it with some chicken, well.. chances are you may be disappointed. Quinoa is fun, quinoa is exciting, quinoa is your crazy Uncle Jack that wears Hawaiian shirts that are too loud for his age and always tells you not to worry, he “knows a guy”. But to bring all that craziness out of that little tiny piece of grain you need to fortify it will some pretty heavy duty friends, it needs to be surrounded with spices and heat and as much flavor as you can throw at it.
Do that and you have a party!
So my first attempt at making quinoa didn’t go as well as I had expected. I cooked it in chicken broth, I added some sugar snap peas and some baked chicken. I think there was some green onions involved. I basically made it as I would my favorite brown rice dish and expected it to be amazing.
Amazing, it was not.
The dish was bland, it was mediocre, it was most certainly not my favorite brown rice dish. I went into to work, sad and deflated and talked to my friend Mary who has become our fitness/nutrition guru a.k.a Satan’s girlfriend due to the stories of cardio classes taught and torture inflicted on other humans in the name of exercise. Chicken broth and snap peas are just not going to work with quinoa, you need to kill it with flavor. So back to the drawing board I went and this recipe was written on the fly. It’s probably the best recipe I have ever written and I have to say that Big Scary Mike, the King of Anti-Leftovers ate these four nights in a row.
Nothing screams success like forcing your family to eat the same thing over and over again and them not minding.
Spicy Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Let me start by saying I do not like peppers.
At all.. any kind, any way, any time. Nope! But what I did for this recipe is keep some of the filling and put it into a small casserole dish and heat it up at the same time as the peppers. This is idea if you yourself do not care for peppers or if there is someone in your house that isn’t a fan.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a microwave safe bowl combine the quinoa and broth and cook according to the instructions on your package.
Note to Self: use a bigger container than expected… this will bubble and potentially over flow if you aren’t watching it. Just saying.. please don’t ask how I know this, there’s no reason to get into that!
Once your quinoa is cooked, set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Heat up a skillet and add the olive oil and ground turkey. Season with salt and pepper and cook until browned. Drain and add to a large bowl. In that bowl, combine your turkey, chipotle peppers, corn, black beans, spices, cilantro, jalapeno, tomatoes, cheeses and finally you quinoa.
Spoon your mixture into your already prepared pepper shells and move them to a cooking dish sprayed with non-stick spray.
Top your peppers with a little leftover shredded cheese and cook for 30 minutes.
This was my little dish.
Now a bit of a warning … these are spicy! Maybe not to the guy that can eat fire but to chicks like me that are on the mild to moderate scale of spicy eating, these pack a punch so if you are not a huge fan of super heat, you may want to cut the jalapeno and chipotle quantity in half. Or not… I personally LOVED the spiciness to it and it is really and amazing dish that is both healthy and flavorful. And if you don’t have any bell peppers on hand or simply don’t care for them, mix the filling and move it to a 9 x 9 cooking dish and cook it that way. Equally delicious!