Stuffed bell peppers with quinoa and ajvar

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Stuffed bell peppers must have been one of the ultimate Summer dishes, now veganised and so gorgeously delicious, that are even better than the originals. Chubby peppers stuffed with all things nice, sealed with a slice of tomato and then slowly simmered in a thick herbs and tomato sauce. Quinoa proved great as a filling in many recipes and here it’s beautiful, nutty flavour is enhanced with slightly sweet and smokey roasted red peppers aroma of the finest ajvar. All of this, plus the fact that it’s one slow cooked dish, makes this stuffed bell peppers with quinoa and ajvar a true winner this Summer.

You’ll need about 50 minutes to 1 hour for this dish, but it’s worth every single minute. Besides most of the work is done by the oven as it’s there where the magic happens.

So let’s start cooking!

Ingredients you’ll need for 6-8 servings:

  • 10 mid/small bell peppers
  • 250g white quinoa
  • 2 small onions
  • 500g fresh tomatoes or 300ml homemade tomato sauce
  • 2 fresh tomatoes to seal the peppers
  • 1tbsp tomato paste
  • 3tbsp ajvar
  • olive oil

Herbs & Spices

  • salt
  • pepper
  • sweet paprika
  • chili flakes – this is optional, only if you like a bit of steam
  • fresh thyme and oregano
  • sumac – you can leave this one out if you can’t get it

Wash the peppers, cut to remove the stem and seeds and leave to dry while we prepare the filling.

Finely chop the onions and fresh herbs. Rinse the quinoa. Dice the tomatoes all 500g if you use fresh ones.

In a preheated pan add a tablespoon of olive oil than briefly saute the herbs and onions until translucent. Add a pinch of pepper, 2-3tsp paprika and/or chilies, a good pinch of sumac and salt. Mix to blend with onions and oil, than add the tomato paste and ajvar and stir. This should all be done on a medium heat so it doesn’t burn, if absolutely necessary add a tiny bit of water, just don’t overdo it as we’re throwing in the tomatoes right now. Not all of it, just 300g if you use them fresh or 150ml if you use the sauce. Stir.

Add the quinoa and now pour in some water for the quinoa to cook. Normally the ratio is 1:3 quinoa:water, but here it would be less because of the tomatoes and it really depends on weather you use fresh or cooked ones. Start with adding just enough water to cover all the quinoa and if needed add a bit more during the process. Anyway, leave to simmer until cooked, you’ll see the quinoa opens it’s seeds and all the extra liquid is gone.

Turn on the oven to 200C.

Squeeze all the peppers into a pan or a deep baking dish so they stay upright while cooking. Fill each pepper and seal with a slice of fresh tomato.

Mix the remaining fresh or sauced tomatoes with lukewarm water and fill the space in between the peppers with this mix. If you have some leftover filling add it too. As you may see on the photos here, I had a lot the last time I cooked these beauties. The peppers should be covered about 2/3 by this tomato and water mix.

Seal the pot well, I use tin foil and leave it in the oven for about 20 min for all the ingredients to develop full flavour and sauce thickens. Then remove the foil and return to the oven for 5 to 10 min more for the final roasted aromas touch and enjoy!

These stuffed bell peppers can be easily kept for a few days in a fridge, that is if they last that long 😉 and if you loved this dish, you may also check out this gorgeous tomato soup with quinoa or stuffed zucchini flowers

Enjoy!

 

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