Tonight was a throw everything in your fridge and stuff it into a bell pepper kind of night. However, all the different ingredients made for a delicious and healthy dinner. This meal came together fast, had great flavor and was easy on the wallet. It seems like every where you go red bell peppers are on sale right now - yes, these are apparently the things I notice in my life now - anyway, they're the perfect vessels to stuff things in and make for an elegant presentation.
I love these kinds of recipes. It's so versatile and you can swap out the veggies for whatever you have on hand and add a different spice if you're not a fan of cumin. But the cumin does add a nice smokey taste and the ingenious addition of cayenne - made by moi - added some additional lingering heat as well. I love spicy food so this dish was no exception.
The roasted cauliflower was fantastic as well. When you roast the cauliflower this way, the bottom gets brown and caramelized and it becomes crunchy and chewy. I finished the dish with my new fancy "Fleur de Sel" salt and it added a nice salty bite to the veggies. Aren't the cauliflowers cute! They look like little trees. If that reason alone doesn't motivate you to make the dish, I don't know what will :)
Red Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa, Zucchini and Feta
Adapted from Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed well several times
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 scallion thinly sliced into rounds
1 jalapeño chile, finely diced, seeded if desired
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cups, more or less, fresh or frozen corn kernels (substituted grated zucchini-drained on paper towels)
1/2 bunch of spinach, leaves only, or substitute 1 handful of arugula, torn into pieces
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup feta cheese, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup Riesling or other aromatic white wine
2 yellow and/or orange bell peppers
Cayenne pepper and onion powder to taste
1. Bring 1 cups of water to a boil. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, then the quinoa. Give it a stir, then cover and simmer over low heat until the grains are tender and reveal their spiraled germ, about 15 minutes.
2. Warm half the oil in a wide skillet. Add the scallions and chiles, cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes, then add the garlic, cumin, grated zucchini and spinach, along with 2 tablespoons water. When the spinach is wilted, add the cilantro, quinoa and feta. Toss everything together, taste for salt, and season with pepper, cayenne, and onion powder.
3. Slice the peppers in half lengthwise without removing the tops or stems, then cut out the membranes and seeds. Simmer them in water until tender to the touch of a knife but not overly soft, 4 to 5 minutes, and remove. Fill a baking dish with the wine, fill peppers with the quinoa mixture and set them in the baking dish.
4. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Drizzle the rest of the oil over the peppers and bake the peppers until heated through, 20 to 30 minutes, then switch the heat to broil and brown the tops until nice an crispy. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Serves 2.
Notes: If you make this recipe be careful of how much salt you use because depending on what kind of feta you get, it will add additional salt to your dish. Also, you may be tempted to swap out water for the wine since the recipe calls for such a small amount, but the wine really does add a lovely aroma to the end result.
Roasted Cauliflower Recipe
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
1/2 of a medium head of cauliflower, washed
extra-virgin olive oil
*Fleur de Sel to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place racks in the middle.
Trim the cauliflower. Get rid of the big stalks and stems and strive for uniform, bite-sized little florets. Little trees.
In a big bowl toss the cauliflower with olive oil and the rest of the ingredients. Toss until the cauliflower is well coated and then place it in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. You are going to bake for about 25-30 minutes total.
After the cauliflower has been baking for about 15-20 minutes anything in contact with the pan should be nicely browned. Pull the pan out of the oven, rotate each piece of cauliflower so that another side will get some color. Return the pan to the oven and finish with another 7-10 minutes or so. The cauliflower should be tender throughout. Finish with a sprinkling of Fleur de Sel. Serve immediately.