Quinoa-stuffed Hungarian peppers with kale and eggplant

There is infinite variation on the theme of stuffed peppers; this version is celiac friendly and gluten free. You could use rice or barley instead of quinoa, and vegans will want to substitute a vegan-friendly cheese. Chop all ingredients the same size for even cooking. Don’t like eggplant? Leave it out. If you don’t have all the ingredients improvise — use beet leaves instead of kale, for example, or large tomatoes, fresh corn kernels. This recipe can be halved easily.

  • 1 c quinoa (to make approx 4 c cooked grain)
  • 2 c vegetable stock
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 med onion, chopped in medium dice
  • 1½ t cumin
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 sml firm eggplant, trimmed and seeded, chopped
  • ½ red or yellow pepper, chopped in medium dice
  • 1 sml Serrano, or bird chili, trimmed and chopped fine (or ¼ t cayenne pepper or Hungarian paprika)
  • 1 med zucchini, seeded and chopped
  • 6-8 cherry tomatoes chopped
  • 2-3 Swiss chard or kale leaves, chopped fine
  • handful parsley, chopped fine
  • leaves of one thyme sprig, chopped fine
  • 3-4 mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 c ricotta salata
  • ¼ c grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • sea salt and fresh-cracked black pepper
  • 12-16 Hungarian peppers (the longish pale green ones)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Bring the quinoa and stock to a boil. Cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the grain looks translucent, 12-15 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Reserve.

Wash and slice off the tops of the peppers. Reserve the heads. Take out the seeds and the white ribs.

Heat oil, add onions, garlic, cumin, eggplant and peppers. Season lightly. Cook over medium low heat until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and greens. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add herbs and combine with the cooked quinoa and cheeses. Season to taste.

Stuff the peppers with the quinoa mixture, packing it in (it will shrink during cooking). Place tops on peppers and stand up in a baking dish. Roast for about 15-20 minutes until the filling is hot and bubbly and the peppers are starting to crinkle and brown. Serve hot or cold.

Makes 12-16 stuffed peppers.

Serve with tomato sauce or a lemony yogurt tzatziki.

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