Pepper Madness + RECIPE: Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

I have so many peppers in my life right now. Seriously, they are taking over all four of our fridges. My husband. He loves to grow peppers. He thinks they are the most beautiful plants and loves all the different varieties, colors and heat levels.

I guess I like peppers well enough. I have to agree that they have been really fun to grow and harvest. And some varieties are seriously pretty. But until we had a vegetable farm (and before I had a husband obsessed with growing a whole damn field of peppers year after year), I never really gave them a second thought. I’d buy a jalapeno from time to time. I’d get the cute little traffic light bell peppers for veggie trays. Way back when, my life was very different and I thought you had to hide vegetables in casseroles so that people would eat them. I never could have imagined that one day my life would be filled with so many peppers that I’d stuff a vegetable with other vegetables and call it dinner. Boy how things change in a hurry!!

bell peppers 2 yessss

Speaking of life moving so quickly, my kindergarten best friend got married this weekend!! Weren’t we just five?! And then weren’t we just 16 and almost running out of gas in strange places and causing so much trouble?! Seriously, where does the time go?!

Heather, I love you so much and you couldn’t have been more beautiful and that speech with 6 s-bombs could not have been more you and if you liked vegetables at all, I’d dedicate this recipe to you, but since you don’t, I’ll just keep eating these stuffed bell peppers by myself while baking you and your husband (!!!!!) these chocolate chip cookies with sprinkles and revealing in the contradictions that make up our beautiful 21-year friendship! I love you babe and your hilarious husband. Welcome to married life!!!

bridesmaids dinner beauty

-Leek

QUINOA STUFFED BELL PEPPERS

Takes 1 hour, 15 minutes
Serves 4-6

3/4 cup quinoa
1-1/2 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
6 bell peppers, halved lengthwise, seeds and stems removed
1 large onion or 2 small yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons Kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups diced summer squash
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 ounces crumbled feta
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Cook quinoa according to package directions.**
Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on a baking sheet. Lay out peppers, cut-side up, on baking sheet. Drizzle additional 1 tablespoon olive oil over the peppers. Bake for 30 minutes.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook over low heat for 25 minutes until very soft and just beginning to caramelize. Add sugar and cook 5 minutes longer until nicely browned and caramelized. Add summer squash and remaining salt. Turn heat up to medium and saute for 10 minutes until squash is soft. Add jalapenos and garlic. Cook 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and toss with cooked quinoa, feta and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Remove bell peppers from oven. Fill (as best you can) with quinoa mixture. Bake for 15 minutes until edges of peppers are blackened and feta is soft. Enjoy warm!

** I always cook quinoa the same way. I rinse the 3/4 cup quinoa well using a fine mesh strainer. I pour the still damp quinoa into a medium saucepan. I “toast” the quinoa over medium heat until no water remains and it starts to smell a little nutty. I add the 1-1/2 cups water to the pan, turn it up to high and wait for it to boil. Once it starts to boil, reduce the temperature to as low as it will go and cover. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking over very low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Fluff with a fork before eating or tossing with other ingredients. Perfect quinoa every time!!

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