Braised Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa, Zucchini, Tomatoes a​nd Pine Nuts

There is something so comforting about stuffed vegetables. These babies are a great side dish that goes well with almost any meal. I tend to make a side dish like this when I have a crowd for dinner, and I have vegetarians at my table. They are a perfect vegetarian main course. Make at least one pepper person as the main course, and you can cut them in half if you are using them as a side dish.

You have enough filling for 10 peppers.  If you don’t have a pot big enough to fit 10 peppers snugly or only want to make 6, you can cook up the filling separately and serve it alongside the stuffed peppers.  See note at the bottom.

Braised Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa, Zucchini, Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

This a perfect served as a vegetarian main or as a side dish.
Serves 6-10 as a main course, each person eating a whole stuffed pepper or 12-20 as a side dish with each person halving 1/2 a stuffed pepper.

Ingredients
  

  • 6 -10 red and yellow bell peppers uniform in size

For the Filling

  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 onions finely chopped
  • 2 zucchini ends removed, grated on a large hole box grater
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 large tomatoes grated*
  • cup uncooked quinoa
  • cup pine nuts toasted
  • ½ cup chopped parsley

For the Sauce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2-3 whole onions peeled

Instructions
 

  • Cut the tops off the peppers, with your fingers, remove the seeds and membranes, set aside.

For the Filling

  • In a large sauté pan, heat the oil, add the chopped onion and cook on med heat until golden brown and caramelized about 10 minutes. 
  • Add the grated zucchini, toss and cook for another 5-10 minutes. 
  • Add the salt, pepper, paprika and grated tomato, toss to combine, let cook for a minute or two. 
  • Add the quinoa, cook for a minute or two. 
  • Add the pine nuts and parsley, toss. Turn heat off while preparing the sauce.

For the Sauce

  • In a large braising pot, one that will fit the peppers snugly and that has a lid, add the oil and heat over low heat. 
  • Add the garlic, sauté for less than 10 seconds. 
  • Add the tomato paste, careful, it may splatter. 
  • Add the stock, whisk to combine the tomato paste with the stock. 
  • Add the sugar, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for a few minutes.  Remove about ¾ of a cup of sauce, set aside.
  • In the meantime, stuff the peppers with the filling ⅔ full.  Place in the sauce (cut side up), squeezing the peppers in, the less space the better.  If you have any space in between the peppers, fill it with the extra whole (or half) peeled onions (it will flavour the sauce). 
  • Pour the reserved ¾ cup sauce over the peppers with filling.Put the lid on the pot, turn heat to low and let simmer for 45 min-1 hour.  

Notes

*Grating a tomato: cut the stem end off the tomato.  Using a large hole box grater, rub the cut side of the tomato along the grater over a bowl.  You will end up with juicy skin free pulp and the skin left behind.  Discard skin.
Note: If you have extra quinoa filling, leave in the pan, cover with more stock (about 1 cup) cover with a lid and simmer on low for 20 minutes.  Serve alongside the stuffed peppers.
Make-Ahead Tip: Let the cooked peppers cool, transfer to an oven-to-table serving dish, spoon some of the sauce over the peppers and spoon the rest around the peppers.  Store in the fridge, covered.  Remove several hours before reheating.  Reheat in a 350˚F-400˚F oven for about 30-45 minutes. Uncovered or loosely covered with foil.

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