Red Pepper Boats with Chicken and Quinoa
When my kids were very little, I took to calling things I stuffed “boats” (potato boats, tomato boats, etc.). They seemed more keen to eat the food this way. The notion stuck and we’ve retained our nautical nomenclature. That’s how I started cutting my bell peppers in half length-wise when stuffing them. Cutting the peppers this longer way, seems more boatesque.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 4 red bell peppers
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- 1-lb ground chicken thigh
- 1 small white onion, diced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 heaping teaspoon of Hungarian paprika
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
- ½ cup marinara sauce
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup grated cheddar or jack cheese
A step you can skip: I like my bell peppers well cooked. To achieve this, I roasted them on the stove-top earlier in the day. Then, I placed them in a paper bag until evening. If you choose to do this, be sure to scrape off charred skin before preparing your peppers to be stuffed.
Cook the quinoa according to package directions and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350F/177C/Gas Mark 4
Remove the very top of the bell pepper and scoop out seeds from the inside. Cut peppers in half length-wise.
In a large, heavy, oven-proof skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and zucchini and cook for 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Season with chili powder, paprika, coriander, salt and pepper. Allow seasoning to become fragrant, about one minute longer. Remove vegetables from pan, placing them in a large bowl for later. Return pan to burner and add chicken. Cook through and season as necessary with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
Add meat, quinoa and parsley to set-aside vegetables and fold together until fully combined. I like to reuse the skillet for baking the peppers off in the oven -- any opportunity to reduce clean up should be taken!
Add ½ cup of water to the marinara sauce and mix well. Add a small amount of marinara to the bottom of the skillet. Then, fill each pepper half with a heaping amount of the filling. Place stuffed pepper halves in skillet and pour remaining marinara sauce around edges. Scatter 1-2 tablespoons of grated cheese on each pepper. Place a lid or tinfoil over the pan and set in oven for 45 minutes. Remove lid and brown cheese under broiler.
On the side: I serve a simple green salad dressed with a red wine vinaigrette, which cuts the richness of the peppers.
In my glass: 2010 Teac Mor Pinot Noir
Out of my speakers: HAIM, “Something to Tell You”