Quinoa is a very “in” food right now. Everyone is eating it. Have you tried it? Have you heard of it? If you’re not familiar with quinoa, here are some fun facts from good ol’ Wikipedia.

  • Quinoa is a from a “grain-like” crop, and what you eat are the seeds.
  • Quinoa originated in South America.
  • Per 100 grams (3.5 oz), quinoa contains 14 grams of protein and has a balanced set of amino acids, which makes it a complete protein source, uncommon for food from plants.
  • Quinoa has a light and fluffy texture.
  • Quinoa has a slightly nutty flavor and can be used in most places that you would use rice.
  • Quinoa typically cooks in about 15 minutes (much faster than brown rice!).
  • Quinoa is pronounced “KEEN-wah.”

Did you learn anything new? I did! Another great thing about quinoa is that it is versatile. You can use it to make breakfast (protein packed!), salad, soup, or this dinner that I’m dying to make!

Or….you could make these stuffed peppers. Which were delicious, filling, and flavorful. I put chicken in these to prevent myself from getting crazy looks from my husband, but they would be great vegetarian. Between the quinoa, beans, and cheese, they have a ton of protein. This was a really quick and easy meal for me to make, I used this quinoa and this chicken, so with those both thawed in the fridge, it was simple to throw this together.

This makes a huge batch, probably at least 8 peppers. I made four stuffed peppers and then made a casserole out of the remainder of the filling. That was great too, if you have someone (like my dad) who doesn’t like peppers (take note, mom!). I’ll write about both. So if you want only four peppers, I would recommend cutting the recipe in half. However, we did like having both the peppers and the casserole version, because the peppers don’t hold a ton of filling so it was nice to add a little more when we wanted it.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers (makes eight)

8 bell peppers (any color!)
2 cups of cooked quinoa
1/2 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 ears of corn, kernels cut away from cob
1/2 pint of grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
3-4 cooked chicken breasts, diced (omit if preparing for vegetarians, obviously)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 heaping tablespoon taco seasoning
1.5 cups of cheese (I used cheddar and Monterey jack blend)

1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
2. Wash peppers and cut off tops. Discard seeds and ribs.
3. In very large bowl, mix together all other ingredients. Save a small bit of the cheese to sprinkle on top of the peppers (or…use extra, not like I did that or anything).
4. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Submerge peppers into water and boil for three minutes. Remove carefully and let cool until you are able to handle them.
5. Set peppers upright in a baking dish (probably a 9×13 for eight peppers, or an 8×8 for four peppers). Fill peppers with filling, pushing down gently and heaping up slightly on top. Sprinkle with extra cheese if desired.
6. Bake at 350*F for 40-45 minutes or until browned on top and heated through.
7. Serve with more chopped fresh cilantro or fresh salsa.

Southwestern Quinoa Casserole
also a NotRachaelRay original

Same ingredients as above, minus peppers
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (This was for half of the filling. If you do the whole recipe in casserole form, you might want closer to a whole cup of panko)
olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
2. Mix together all ingredients and spread in greased (I used non-stick spray) casserole dish.
3. Sprinkle top with panko and spritz with olive oil.
4. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until panko is browned and casserole is heated through.

Verdict: I was really happy with how these turned out. The crispy fresh corn was probably my favorite part of this dish.
Husband’s take: He liked them too. At first I thought he wasn’t too crazy about them (a little “out there” for him, he prefers all things traditional), but he ate seconds and leftovers, always a good sign.
Changes I would make: I would probably add slightly more taco seasoning to these to make them a bit spicier (I can’t believe I just said that).
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate.