Although you may know quinoa as a super grain, you usually don’t think of quinoa as an exciting hot Italian dinner as good as pasta do you? well this stuffed sundried tomato quinoa peppers recipe will change the way you do quinoa and you won’t even remember that it’s dairy free and meatless! The consistency of the quinoa is totally changed by baking it with sundried tomato sauce. And the sundried tomatoes and herbs create such a flavor bomb that these peppers taste amazing even without cheese!
I was told when I made these that its like eating at a restaurant, and to be honest I have yet to find a restaurant that does quinoa this good that you forget you are eating quinoa, but rather an amazing Italian dinner! And it’s so fresh and nutritious!
It’s a perfect date night dinner for Valentine’s day or any day and it’s simple and healthy. Its a perfect healthy, meat-free Monday dinner that can be made fully vegan if needed or vegetarian, yet its loaded in lean protein from quinoa, which is a naturally gluten-free pasta alternative for an Italian night dinner. It’s also fairly quick to make and a foolproof dinner tha even a begginer cook can master!
The wholesome ingredients are light and a low-carb idea for clean eating, but there is no compromise on flavour. The great thing is that everyone’s peppers can be customized to have cheese-free or cheese loaded peppers-you know for family members with different diet needs.
Stuffed quinoa pepper ingredients:
- 2 cups chicken stock or sub veg stock or water for vegan
- 1 1/3 cups of raw quinoa, rinsed and drained several times (yields approx. 4 cups cooked quinoa)
- 2 small jars of your favourite sun-dried tomato pesto (dairy-free if necessary). I recommend Classico for best results. Or sub diy sundried tomato pesto* (if you can’t have any dairy and can’t find dairy free sundried tomato pesto, see diy recipe below)
- 1 bunch each of fresh parsley and few basil leaves, optional
- Olive oil, 1 tbsp, optional
- 3 large bell peppers ideally with even bottoms, seeded, top cut off, (otherwise if uneven bottoms cut them in half after cutting the top off, to use as bowls)
- optional but highly recommended for those who eat dairy : 50 g of goat cheese for the filling and grated parmesan for sprinkling on top
- tip: feel free to either double the entire recipe for a large family meal or just double the quinoa and pesto and not the peppers, to have extra quinoa on the side of the peppers for a more filling meal or as delicious leftovers. Cost-efficiency-wise 3 jars of sundried pesto can be enough for the extra portion of quinoa
Diy sundried tomato pesto:
- 2 x 8.5 oz jar sundried tomatoes in oil (if your sundried tomatoes are dried, add 1 cup olive oil, note: some jarred ones have capers in it which adds a sour taste, so if yu don’t want that use dried sundried tomatoes)
- 1 cup fresh basil, stems removed (if you have a basil plant you can even double up to 2 cups, if you don’t have a basil plant you can go down to 1/2 a cup)
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced,
- juice from 1/3 of a lemon or tsp red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste,
- dash olive oil
- optional: 1/3 cup onion or garlic tomato sauce or red bell pepper tomato sauce, plus 1/4 cup tomato paste, optional
- optional variation if not using optional tomato sauce: 2 tbsp. pine nuts instead of grated parmesan (unless you can tolerate dairy in which case go nuts with the parm)
- optional: pinch of dehydrated onions
- If making the sundried tomato pesto from scratch: Place pesto ingredients in food processor and process, stopping and scraping down the sides until pesto consistency is reached, if needed add a dash of olive oil to help blend.
- Put quinoa and broth in a pot with a few leaves of basil and 1/3 of the bunch of parsley (stems on for easier removal). Bring so simmer then cover. cook on low about 15 min. take off the heat and leave covered for 10 min for fluffy, non-mushy quinoa (though this baked quinoa recipe is forgiving as the oven crisps it out so even if you added a bit extra broth it will dry out a bit). fluff with fork. remove the herbs with a fork. preheat oven to 350F.
- mix in pesto well until the quinoa is fully covered in pesto – you may not use all the pesto, depending on the size of jar you use, but make sure the quinoa is fully coated in the pesto sauce and to your liking, I love a lot of pesto. (Any leftover pesto is great on pasta salad the next day.)
- chop the parsley and stir it in with a tbsp of olive oil.
- Spoon quinoa into peppers.
- If cheese is desired or some family members can eat dairy, then use a teaspoon to spoon in a small amount of goat cheese in between quinoa layers and top with grated parmesan.
- If the peppers need help staying up use a cake pan so the sides can help hold them up. Line a cake pan or sheet pan with parchment paper and bake until peppers have softened and filling is hot about 20-28 min or until the peppers are wrinkly and soft and the part of the pepper that is on the pan has turned golden, but not charred.
- If desired, garnish with leftover chopped basil or parsley.
Serve any leftover quinoa on the side of the peppers as unstuffed quinoa peppers stuffing, and pair or precede the stuffed peppers with a matching appie tha helps you use up the rest of the basil and optional goat cheese: a hearty, creamy basil spread (add the leftover basil for extra basil flavour to the spread) and serve it over warmed baguette toasts or some garlic bread.
Cook once eat twice idea for easy weekday dinners: If you have leftover pesto or tomato sauce then the next day enjoy it with pasta or add extra lemon juice to the pesto to help it keep a few days in the fridge in an airtight container. add other sauteed veggies to the sundried tomato pasta. Plus if desired add grilled chicken pieces for protein, and/or crumbled goat cheese or feta for vegetarian. Or for vegan add white beans with the next-day pasta for protein.
Variation for using leftover pesto quinoa: make sundried tomato quinoa wraps for next day lunch meal prep.
If you like this recipe and share it tag me on instagram @dairyfreeindulgencerecipes #dairyfreeindulgencerecipes (i know the name is long but dairyfreeindulgence was already taken on insta!) , I’d love to see your versions of my recipe :).