Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
This delicious dish of sweet red bell peppers with a savoury chickpea and quinoa stuffing has a Lebanese twist!
To make the quinoa
Cook the quinoa in 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) water for about 12 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Drain, rinse, and squeeze out any excess water, then set aside in a large bowl.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet or frying pan. Sauté the onion and yellow bell pepper together for a few minutes. Next, add the chickpeas and cumin and cook for another 5 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper, then transfer to the bowl with the quinoa and toss everything together.
Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas mark 5. For the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan, then add the onion and sauté until slightly golden. Add the tomato paste (puree) and 3 ¼ cups (28 fl oz/800 ml) of boiling water. Cook for 10 minutes on a rolling boil, then add the 7-spice and season well with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce into an ovenproof dish and set aside.
Fill the red bell pepper halves with the stuffing and carefully sink them into the sauce in the ovenproof dish. Any leftover stuffing can be added to the sauce to help it thicken. Cook for 30–35 minutes.
Remove from the oven, let cool slightly before sprinkling with parsley, and serve.
To make the Lebanese 7-spice seasoning
[Preparation time: 5 minutes, Makes: about 1 ¾ cups (6 oz/175 g)]
Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly and store in an airtight container.
To make the tomato paste
[Preparation time: 15 minutes, Cooking time: 1 hour 30 minutes, Makes: ¾ cup (7 oz/200 g)]
Put the tomatoes into a large saucepan, cover, and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for another 1 hour 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Pass the tomatoes through a fine strainer (sieve) into a bowl to remove the skin and seeds. Spoon the paste into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Use within a few days.
“This dish of sweet red bell peppers with a savory chickpea and quinoa stuffing is one of my husband Heni’s favorites. It is served with a Lebanese spiced tomato sauce.”
“The Lebanese 7-spice seasoning is a classic spice-blend recipe that I have been using for many years, but many Lebanese families have their own version of this 7-spice blend. Just a teaspoon of it really lifts so many dishes. For me, this seasoning captures the taste of Lebanese food and it is a flavor that I find I miss if I don’t have it for a while, or if I am traveling abroad. It only takes a few minutes to prepare once you have all the ingredients together, and you can scale up the ratios to make larger quantities, though the following recipe provides a good amount to start out with.”
“One small spoon of the tomato paste transforms any dish. Just thinking about rich and savory tomato paste (puree) makes my mouth water. In Lebanon, of course, we would dry it in the sun, so it would last longer. Start with good ripened tomatoes and you will still get something delicious, even if you live somewhere cooler.”
Recipe courtesy of Phaidon
Taken from The Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cookbook by Salma Hage, published by Phaidon, priced £24.95 in hardback
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