Introduction: QUINOA & SAUSAGE STUFFED PEPPERS
I love stuffed peppers. Four chubby, laughing, Italian ladies - my grandfather's sisters - played an important part in my life helping to bring me up in my younger years, and 3 of them were great cooks, and Aunt Mary, who lived for 99 years, made the most fantastic stuffed peppers.
None of her recipes were passed down through the ages, and I can only guess how she made hers. The only thing that I know for sure is that she used sweet bell peppers, ripe red tomatoes, ground beef, and white rice. Over the years I have tried several different recipes, and the one that follows suits me best.
Instead of ground beef, I use turkey sausage; Hot Italian Turkey Sausage! I also use Quinoa instead of rice, although you can certainly make yours with rice; just try not to use White Rice. Brown rice, especially long grain brown rice, has less calories and less carbs than white rice, and over 3 x's the amount of fiber. Since the husks have not been removed (or only partially removed) from the brown rice, it also has more nutrients.
I do hope that you will enjoy the recipe that follows.
Step 1: INGREDIENTS
FOR 2 SERVINGS, THE BASIC INGREDIENTS ARE:
- 10 oz Turkey Sausage, casings removed (and I prefer hot turkey sausage)
- 1 TBS Coconut Oil or Olive Oil
- 1/4 Cup Red Onion, finely chopped
- 1 14.5 oz Can Basil, Garlic & Oregano Diced Tomatoes, no salt added.
- 2 TBS fresh Basil or Parsley, chopped
- 3 or 4 gloves Garlic, crushed and finely chopped (optional)
- 1/2 Cup Sharp Provolone Cheese, shredded
- 1/4 tsp Ground Chipotle (optional)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt (use iodizedsea salt; it's much better for you)
- 1 to 1/2 Cup cooked Quinoa, (Red Quinoa preferred) (follow package directions; about 3/4 cup dry)
- 2 "Good-sized" Sweet Bell Peppers (medium size or slightly bigger); tops removed, cored, and seeded. Red, Green, or Yellow - whatever colors please you. (Save the tops; set them aside for later use)
Step 2: DIRECTIONS
- *Cook the Quinoa according to the package directions and set aside
- Saute the decased sausage in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat
- Crumble the sausage as it cooks and stir frequently until it is nicely brown and no longer pink, breaking up any large pieces (I have discovered that an old-fashioned potato masher works great here); about 7 - 10 minutes (no need to overcook). When done, remove the sausage to a plate and set aside.
- While the sausage is cooking, finely chop the bell pepper tops that you set aside earlier.
- In the same skillet, heat the 1 TBS of oil over medium-high heat. Saute the chopped onion and bell pepper tops for a few minutes, or until slightly softened.
- Add 1 cup of the diced tomatoes to the pan and cook for a few more minutes, or just until the mixture begins to bubble. Reserve the remaining diced tomatoes and set aside.
- Remove the skillet from the heat, then add the chopped Basil, Quinoa, ground Chipotle if using, sausage and cheese. Stir to combine, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
- Preheat oven to 350f.
- While the oven is heating, stuff the bell peppers with the sausage mixture, dividing equally and gently packing the mixture down. Arrange upright in a suitably sized baking dish (IE., keep them upright. You may have to flatten the bottom of the pepper(s) by carefully slicing off a very thin sliver of pepper for this purpose, but be careful; try not to cut through the bottom of the bell peppers).
- Spread the remaining diced tomatoes over the tops of the stuffed peppers (it's OK if some of the mixture flows into the bottom of the baking dish); cover, and bake for about 1 hour, or until the peppers are just about tender when pierced with a kitchen fork. (I like mine a little on the firm side so I start checking after they have baked for about 45 minutes)
*I have to be honest here; I cheated! Instead of making a fresh batch of Quinoa, I used some left-over Quinoa Mediterranean Salad in this recipe. A couple of days earlier, I made the salad using a Hunts recipe that contains Quinoa, black olives, diced tomatoes, chopped onions, chopped cucumbers, and a little feta cheese (and of course, I added several cloves of crushed and chopped garlic, and oregano). I made far too much, so I used a cup of it here; if anything, it added additional flavor to this recipe!
Step 3: NUTRITION
Since I mixed two recipes together, I am a bit uncertain about the calories and carbohydrates in this recipe. I can only estimate that this entree has between 350 - 400 calories and 40 - 50 carbs.
ENJOY YOUR DINNER!
A glass of good red wine compliments this meal. A nice Chianti or - in this case - a Frontera Concha Y Toro Malbec from Argentina.
One stuffed pepper is more than filling for one person; additional peppers can be refrigerated for a day or two, or frozen and reheated at a later date.