This recipe for quinoa-stuffed peppers (capsicums) comes from Claire Berliner of the Arvon Foundation. Claire and husband Oliver Meek are the directors of Arvon’s Totleigh Barton centre in Devon, where I just spent a wonderful week on a short story writing course – the food being one of many highlights. I’ve tweaked the recipe Claire gave me, adding lemon zest to the quinoa and a mint-yoghurt sauce on the side.
As Claire says, the quinoa stuffing is also excellent on its own as a salad, in which case add some olive oil and lemon juice to taste. You could also try wrapping any leftover quinoa mix and yoghurt sauce in tortillas, for lunch the next day.
Serves 4 (or 6 as a starter, using 6 smaller peppers)
½ cup quinoa
¾ cup frozen peas
125g feta cheese, crumbled
250g cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size
zest of half a lemon (use a zester, or grate finely)
¼ cup mint, shredded
1 cup basil leaves (loosely packed), torn
4 large or 6 small peppers (capsicums), red, orange or yellow
sea salt and black pepper
For the mint-yoghurt sauce
¾ cup yoghurt
⅓ cup finely chopped mint
You will also need a large baking dish, or roasting dish lined with foil.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Bring a small pan of water to the boil and cook the quinoa for 14 minutes. Drain in a sieve and run under cold water. Spread the quinoa around the sieve with a fork or spoon and sit over the hot cooking pan (off the heat) to steam away as much liquid as possible.
Meanwhile, cook the frozen peas in boiling water for a minute or so, until just tender. Drain and refresh under cold running water.
Place the quinoa, peas, feta, tomatoes, lemon zest and herbs in a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly and season. I like this with a lot of pepper and a bit of salt, too – keep tasting until you have the flavour you want.
Slice the peppers in two through the stalks, and carefully remove the seeds and membrane with a small sharp knife. Brush the baking or roasting dish with oil. Take each pepper half and pack it with quinoa mix, mounding it up, but ensuring it’s not so full it will spill out during the cooking.
Carefully place the peppers, stuffing side up, in the baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 30 minutes, until the peppers are tender and golden brown around the edges.
Meanwhile, to make the mint-yoghurt sauce, mix together the yoghurt and mint and season with salt to taste.
Serve two or three pepper halves per person with the mint-yoghurt sauce on the side. As lunch, supper or a starter it doesn’t really need anything else. For dinner, I would serve it with dark green salad and bread – olive bread is especially good.