Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers with Tangy Tomato Sauce

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers with Tangy Tomato Sauce

This vibrant dish combines the nutty flavor of quinoa with seasoned vegetables, all encased in sweet bell peppers and topped with a zingy tomato sauce. It’s a hearty and nutritious meal that’s perfect for a family dinner or a gathering with friends. The dish is both colorful and packed with nutrients, making it an appealing option for healthy eating.

Ingredients:
– 4 large bell peppers (any color)
– 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
– 2 cups water or vegetable broth
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1 medium onion, chopped
– 2 garlic cloves, minced
– 1 zucchini, diced
– 1 carrot, grated
– 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
– 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
– 1 tsp ground cumin
– 1 tsp paprika
– 1/2 tsp chili powder
– Salt and pepper to taste
– 1 cup shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese (optional)
– Fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish

For the Tangy Tomato Sauce:
– 1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
– 1 tbsp tomato paste
– 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
– 1 tsp sugar
– 1/2 tsp dried oregano
– 1/2 tsp dried basil

Instructions:

1. Prepare the Quinoa:
1. In a medium saucepan, bring the quinoa and water (or vegetable broth) to a boil.
2. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender.
3. Fluff with a fork and set aside.

2. Prepare the Bell Peppers:
1. While the quinoa is cooking, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
2. Cut the tops off the bell peppers and remove the seeds and membranes.
3. Place the peppers in a large baking dish with the open side up.

3. Make the Filling:
1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
2. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic, sautéing until the onion is translucent and fragrant.
3. Add the diced zucchini and grated carrot, cooking for about 5 minutes until they are tender.
4. Stir in the cooked quinoa, black beans, diced tomatoes, ground cumin, paprika, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Cook until well combined and heated through.

4. Stuff the Peppers:
1. Spoon the quinoa mixture into each bell pepper, packing it in tightly.
2. If using cheese, sprinkle it on top of the stuffed peppers.

5. Make the Tangy Tomato Sauce:
1. In a small saucepan, combine the tomato sauce, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, sugar, dried oregano, and dried basil.
2. Simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6. Bake the Peppers:
1. Pour half of the tangy tomato sauce over the stuffed bell peppers.
2. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
3. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the peppers are tender and the cheese (if used) is melted and bubbly.

7. Serve:
1. Spoon the remaining tangy tomato sauce over the baked peppers.
2. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley or cilantro.
3. Serve hot and enjoy!