Introduction: SHRIMP, SAUSAGE, & QUINOA STUFFED BELL PEPPERS
This is a hearty and healthy dish for a cold night, and you can make it hot and spicy or sweet and mild by changing the ingredients to suit your tastes. (I think flowers from my Shrimp Plant have contributed to the appeal of tonight's dinner).
Step 1: INGREDIENTS (2 Servings)
- 2 Medium-large Bell Peppers. Try mixing and matching the colors (but try to keep them of equal size).
- 1/2 lb. Medium Raw Shrimp, peeled and deveined.
- 1 link Hot Italian Pork Sausage (use mild or sweet sausage if you prefer).
- *1 cup Cooked Quinoa (plain, red, multi-colored - your call) - (1/2 dry = 1 cup cooked).
- 1 cup No Salt Added, No MSG Chicken Broth (you can use vegetable broth if you prefer)
- 1/4 cup Diced Onion (I prefer Red Onion, but you can use the onion you like best)
- 1/4 cup Chopped Celery
- 1 14.5 oz. can No Salt Added Petite Diced Tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon Coarse Ground Black Pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (Optional)
- 1 & 1/2 TBS Unsalted Butter
- 1/2 teaspoon Olive Oil (I prefer Bertolli's Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil)
*You can substitute the Quinoa with Cooked Rice if you wish to do so.
Step 2: PREP THE BELL PEPPERS AND QUINOA
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lightly grease with butter a glass or ceramic baking dish (one with a cover) that will hold 2 Peppers upright.
To Prepare The Peppers for Stuffing:
- Fill a pot large with enough water to hold and cover 2 peppers, and bring it to a rolling boil.
- Cut a thin slice from the stem end of each pepper; remove and discard the pepper seeds. Cut a small circle around the stem of the removed "caps." Discard the stem but chop the remaining meat and set aside.
- Drop the bell pepper shells into the boiling water and cook, rotating, for about 4 minutes. Remove and drain the peppers and set aside to cool enough to be handled.
To Prepare the Quinoa that will be used in the stuffing:
- Heat the 1/2 teaspoon of Olive Oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat and add the dry Quinoa. Stir fry the Quinoa, toasting it for about 1 minute, then add the 1 cup of Chicken Broth and bring it to a rolling boil. Turn the heat down to low; cover and cook for 15 minutes (don't peek). Remove the pot from the heat and let the Quinoa rest in the covered pot for 5 more minutes. Remove Cover and allow to cool slightly.
Step 3: MAKE THE STUFFING
Heat 1 & 1/2 TBS Unsalted Butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.
- Empty the can of Diced Tomatoes into a container and "mash" them into a "chunky" tomato sauce (I use a potato masher for this task). Set aside.
- Chop the meat from the pepper tops and set aside.
- Dice the Onion and set aside.
- Chop the celery and set aside.
- Chop all but two of the raw shrimp into nice bite sized pieces; butterfly the two largest shrimp; set all aside.
- Remove and discard the casing from the 1 link of sausage and add to the skillet. Crumble the sausage with a wooden spoon (or the potato masher) while it browns.
- Add the Onion, celery, and red pepper flakes if using, and saute until onions begin to become translucent (about 4 minutes) (turn the heat down to medium if necessary).
- Add the tomatoes, Chopped Pepper tops, Old Bay Seasoning, Black Pepper & Garlic Powder, and simmer for another 4 minutes.
- Add the chopped shrimp(but not the two butterflied shrimp); stir and cook for 2 minutes more.
- Remove skillet from heat and stir in the cooked Quinoa.
Step 4: STUFF AND BAKE THE BELL PEPPERS
Spread a thin coat of tomato sauce over the bottom of the previously greased casserole dish.
- *Fill the Bell Peppers with your stuffing mix (pack it in and press it down while being careful not to bust the peppers, and mound it on top).
- Cover and Bake in the preheated 350 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes. Time will vary slightly due to the size of the peppers and the type of oven you have. The stuffed peppers should be baked at this stage just until their sides can be pierced with the tongs of a large kitchen fork - you don't want "mushy" stuffed peppers!
- Uncover the baking dish and top each pepper with one of the butterflied whole raw shrimp; bake uncovered for another 10 minutes maximum.
*As you can probably see from the 1st photograph above, my bell peppers were not of equal size (I really wasn't thinking about making stuffed peppers when I purchased them). The red Bell Pepper was a bit smaller than the green one, and I had a little too much stuffing mix. I let the excess stuffing mixture fall to the bottom of the casserole dish and it turned out fine. In fact, it was so tasty I just spread it over the pepper I ate for dinner
Step 5: TIME TO EAT . . .
One for dinner tonight, and one left over for another night (like most dishes of this type, Stuffed Peppers seems to improve with age)!
I see no need for a side-dish when I make stuffed peppers. You can add a small salad or side if you want, but I believe that these Stuffed Bell Peppers contain something from each of the major food groups.
Step 6: NUTRITION
I have calculated the nutrition of this recipe to the best of my ability using the MyFitnessPal Recipe Analyzer. (Click to enlarge photo)
NOTE: By removing the 1 link of Hot Italian Sausage from this recipe, you can eliminate 240 total calories (120 per serving) and reduce the carbohydrates by 1 gram, reduce the amount of fat by 18 grams (9 per serving), and reduce the amount of sodium by 410 mg's (205 per serving).