Rush Hour

October brings with it the last of the season's harvest. One of my favorite offerings of the month are big, beautiful red peppers. During other parts of the year, I'll grit my teeth and spend a small fortune on them at the market, but this time of the year, I can go outside and pluck them off full bushes in my garden.

Always tasty fresh, they are also fantastic in stir-fries and fajitas. However, they really shine when stuffed with a rich, delicious filling and roasted in the oven. This time of the year, it can be the ultimate comfort food to enjoy with a glass of wine and warm rolls. It's a great way to welcome autumn and celebrate what harvest remains as we prepare for the long winter ahead.

As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at . Enjoy!

Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa and Cheese

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 1 T. ground cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 10-oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 3 large carrots, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups grated reduced-fat pepper Jack cheese, divided
  • 4 large red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs removed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and celery, and cook for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add the cumin and garlic, and sauté for 1 minute more. Stir in the spinach and drained tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Stir in the black beans, quinoa, carrots, and 2 cups water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender. Stir in 1 cup of cheese. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Pour the liquid from the tomatoes in the bottom of the baking dish.

Fill each bell pepper half with a heaping 3/4-cup of the quinoa mixture, and place it in the baking dish. Cover the dish with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the dish, and sprinkle each pepper with one tablespoon of the remaining cheese. Bake for 15 minutes more, or until the tops of the stuffed peppers are browned. Let them stand for 5 minutes. Transfer the stuffed peppers to serving plates, and drizzle each of them with the pan juices before serving.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes