An 85° day in March day in Los Angeles inspired this fresh, cool dish with mint and lemon. These gluten-free quinoa stuffed peppers can be a great vegetarian dinner or made with mini sweet peppers, they make a nice snack or kid-friendly lunch. The recipe gives another nod to my Syrian grandmother with the flavors from her lemony Hamud broth.
Be sure to check out more of my healthy gluten-free snack recipes including my butternut squash pancakes (the fav in my house) and gluten-free vegetable spring rolls with miso-cashew dipping sauce.
About the Ingredients
- Broth – If you are vegetarian or vegan I highly recommend using Imagine No-Chicken Broth (the low-sodium one) for these quinoa stuffed peppers. It has the best flavor of any of the vegan broths I have tried and provides a great base for soups. If you eat chicken, I recommend using a low-sodium chicken broth. Imagine Food’s Chicken broth is very good also.
- Salt – I have not given an exact amount of salt because all broths are not created equal. The salt level varies greatly so just let your taste buds tell you how much is the right amount.
- Quinoa – If you have not cooked quinoa before, here is my blog post and video tutorial How to Cook Quinoa. If you can boil water and set a timer it will be easy!
- Appetizer – Use mini sweet peppers to make it an appetizer, snack or kid-friendly food.
- Flavors – Adjust the amount of onion and garlic depending on your preference.
- Mint – I am a huge fan of lemon and mint. If you don’t like mint, parsley is a good substitution.
- Protein – Quinoa has good protein content but if you’re a carnivore, add some cooked ground meat or shredded chicken. For vegetarians, add some finely diced tofu for extra protein. Stir both in with the quinoa mixture.
- Top with my Cilantro Lemon Pesto for an extra pop of flavor
For these quinoa stuffed peppers you have the option of keeping the peppers raw or roasting them a little bit to soften them. I find that for the mini peppers that you eat with your fingers keeping them raw is best. But for the full sized ones that you’ll eat with a knife and fork, roasting them briefly is better. Trim the top of the pepper, remove the seeds, place on a baking sheet and roast in a 400F oven for about 8-10 minutes.
Here’s a good way to seed the peppers:
Use a small knife with a narrow tip. Slice off the top of the pepper.
Slide the knife into the top of the pepper and cut around in a circle, cutting through the inside ribs. Try to get close to the bottom of the pepper without going all the way through.
Pull the seed pod out and tap the pepper upside down on the board to shake out any remaining seeds.
Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
- 4 small bell peppers
- 3 Tbsp oil
- ¾ c quinoa
- 1¾ c low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- ¾ c minced celery about 2 stalks
- ¼ c minced onion about ½ small onion
- 1 small garlic clove minced
- 3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 Tbsp dried mint
- ¼ c lemon juice about 2 lemons
- ¼ c sunflower seeds
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Use mini sweet peppers to make it an appetizer, snack or kid-friendly food.
- Adjust the amount of onion and garlic depending on your preference.
- If you’re a carnivore or want to add tofu, start with 1/2 c uncooked quinoa (cooked in 1 c + 2 Tbsps broth) add 1 cup cooked ground meat or shredded chicken. For vegetarians, add some finely diced tofu for extra protein. Stir both in with the quinoa mixture.
Make the Quinoa:
- Place 1½ Tbsp oil, ½ tsp salt and the quinoa in a medium-small saucepan over a high flame. Shake the pan to get the quinoa coated with the oil. Cook for about 5 minutes shaking often. This will toast the quinoa and intensify the flavor.
- Once toasted add the broth and bring to a boil. Then reduce the flame as low as it goes, cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 12-13 minutes. The ratio of liquid is a bit higher than usual for quinoa but I prefer it a bit wet for this dish.
While the quinoa is cooking:
- Chop the parsley, juice the lemons and gather the rest of the ingredients. Mince the celery, onion and garlic.
- Heat a non-stick skillet and add 1½ Tbsp oil. Add the celery and onion and cook over a medium-low flame. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until they are tender but not browned, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Once done, remove the skillet from the burner.
- While the onion and celery are cooking,
- Prepare the peppers
- For whole peppers, (large serving) slice off the top and remove the ribs and seeds from the inside. Shave a very thin slice off the bottom to allow the pepper to stand up level. For a smaller serving cut the pepper in half (cut through the stem then down to the bottom) then remove the seeds and ribs.
This step is optional. Use the peppers raw if preferred:
- Fire roast the peppers by placing them directly on a stove top burner. Char as much of the skin as possible. Turn them with tongs to expose all the skin to the flame. You are looking for the skin just to turn black without setting on fire, so keep a close eye on them. This allows you to keep an eye on the onions & celery and the quinoa at the same time.
- Once the peppers are completely charred on the outside remove them from the flame and allow to cool a few minutes. With the peppers under running water (just a drizzle of water), remove the skin. It will easily slide off. Don’t worry if there are some small patches left on.
- Once the quinoa and celery/onion mixture are ready, combine all the ingredients, except the cheese, in the pot with the quinoa. Taste for the salt level and add more if needed. Spoon the mixture into the peppers and top with feta. If you’re dairy-free leave out the cheese, these have plenty of flavor without it.
- I prefer these at room temp but if you want them hot you can heat them in a 350° oven .