There is something to be said for the efficiency and convenience of having your whole meal packed up into one neat little pepper-present...and that something to be said is YUM.
Stuffed peppers are just pretty too, look at all those colors and the melty cheese and the gorgeous texture of the quinoa. Tasty on the eyes and on the tongue. I amped up the flavor by using half ground sirloin & half spicy Italian sausage and replacing regular tomatoes with fire-roasted tomatoes, and amped up the nutrition by replacing plain white rice with protein-rich quinoa. And they were awesome.
The main difference I have noticed with the stuffed pepper recipes out in the world is that there are two primary methods of stuffing peppers: cut the top off and stuff the whole thing, or cut it in half and stuff each half.
As you can see by the photo, I chose to cut them in half...and I'll tell you why. I was thinking about when the pepper lands on my plate and how I would go about eating it. If I have a whole entire pepper in front of me to tackle with a knife and fork, what is going to be my first step? Cutting it in half. So I just went ahead and did that from the start!
Seems rational to me. Plus - this way there is more surface area for cheese. What can I say, I'm a thinker.
Ingredient round up:
Just 8 ingredients...not bad! (I'm counting the peppers as one and salt, pepper & water are freebies.)
Cut your peppers in half lengthwise and remove the ribs and seeds, and get your quinoa started in a small pot. In a separate sauce pan, add the onion, ground sirloin and sausage.
Cook & crumble until no longer pink and drain excess fat. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add in the fire-roasted diced tomatoes, salt & pepper and stir to combine. (You don't need much seasoning since the sausage is so flavorful.) Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Stir in the cooked quinoa and divide the mixture evenly among the peppers.
Top with shredded mozzarella, add a little water to your baking dish (the water will help steam the peppers and make them nice and tender), cover with foil, and bake!
Yummy noises await you!
- 2/3 cup uncooked quinoa (or 2 cups cooked)
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 lb ground sirloin (lean ground beef)
- 1/2 lb hot Italian sausage, bulk or casings removed
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 4 bell peppers, any color(s) you like
- 1 cup (4 oz) mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup water
Rinse quinoa under running water in a fine mesh strainer and cook according to package directions. (Note: we want about 2 cups of cooked quinoa, which is about 2/3 cup of dry quinoa cooked in 1 1/3 cups water.)
In a separate sauce pan, add the onion, ground sirloin and sausage. Cook & crumble until no longer pink. Drain & discard excess fat.
Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the fire-roasted diced tomatoes, salt and pepper. Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise and remove the ribs and seeds. Arrange cut-side up in a 9x13 baking dish.
Add in the cooked quinoa to the meat/tomato mixture, stir to combine and taste for seasoning, adding more salt and/or pepper if desired. Use a large spoon to divide the mixture evenly among the pepper halves. Top with shredded mozzarella.
Carefully pour 1/2 cup of water into the bottom of the baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 (try not to let the foil touch the tops of the peppers - it will steal your cheese!). Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and peppers are crisp-tender.