After I put this dish in the oven to bake, I put Emma (my miniature American Eskimo Dog) in her harness and headed out to take a brisk 30 min walk around the neighborhood. It’s a nice evening, if not still gray and cool for late July (although I am not complaining given the unrelenting heat and humidity in the rest of the U.S.). As we headed west down our street, I could see a blaze of sunset hues between the clouds.
I became wistful for travel to other environs to watch the sunset from different venues. Even when we just drive the 90 minutes west to the coast, there’s something intriguing and compelling about the colors — and the emotions that follow — as the sun sinks into the ocean’s horizon.
Someday I’d like the vantage point of an exotic Mediterranean land. For instance, ever since I watched that movie “Shirley Valentine,” I’ve wanted to go to Greece. And my dream vacation venue is the Seychelle Islands off the coast of Madagascar. I don’t see the reality of all this any time in the near future, but a girl can dream.
So, thinking about the Mediterranean today, I found a recipe for a stuffed pepper that has those flavors. And I decided to whip it up tonight after work for dinner. It is easy to make, filling and tasty. I don’t know that I was transported to anywhere further than the sofa where I sat and ate it, but for now, I’ll be satisfied with that.
Stuffed Peppers with Mediterranean-Spiced Quinoa
1 tsp olive oil, extra-virgin
1/2 small sweet yellow onion, diced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 cloves minced or pressed garlic
14 1/2 oz canned diced tomatoes, undrained [I used Petite tomatoes with garlic]
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed if indicated on package
1 cup water
4 medium sweet peppers [The original recipe called for red, but I used green because they were $1/pepper less expensive than red in the market today.]
10 medium Kalamata olives, chopped
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1-1/2 Tbsp store-bought pesto sauce
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese [I used crumbled goat cheese]
- Preheat oven to 375ºF. Coat a foil-lined baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Heat oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add onion and kosher salt; cook, stirring occasionally until onion softens, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic to pan; cook, stirring, 30 seconds more. Add tomatoes and their liquid, quinoa, and water to pan; stir well to combine. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil; then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slice top off each pepper and remove core, ribs and seeds; reserve tops for another use. Make a thin slice across bottom of each pepper so it sits flat; place on prepared baking sheet.
- When quinoa is done cooking, stir in olives, chickpeas and pesto.
- Spoon quinoa mixture evenly into each pepper; bake, uncovered, 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle each evenly with the feta; return to oven and continue cooking until feta is slightly melted, about 5 minutes more.
Yield = 1 stuffed pepper per serving.