Nothing like finding a convenient excuse to make something tasty. Trying to be more protein and fiber aware in 2010, quinoa is a perfect vessel to sneak some extra health into any dish. This nutty seed was a dietary staple of native Incas of the Andes region for over 5000 years. Despite near total elimination of quinoa when Spanish conquerors attempted to destroy Inca culture, it was recently popularized in the US in the 1980's. Quinoa is packed full of heart healthy benefits, and rich in minerals like magnesium, iron and riboflavin. Along with the multitude of health benefits, quinoa readily absorbs any flavor imparted on it, and makes a fantastic, healthy addition to any meal.
Chorizo Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
4 large bell peppers
12 oz pork chorizo
1 cup quinoa
1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chicken stock
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
4 garlic gloves, finely diced
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp cumin
8 oz queso fresco
Wash bell peppers thoroughly and pat dry. Cut top to bottom, starting through the stem and cutting to bottom of pepper. Remove seeds and veins from each half pepper, and repeat for all four. Place the eight pepper halves on a baking sheet and place in 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, until peppers are slightly softened.
In a medium saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil. Rinse quinoa in a fine strainer or sieve for 30 seconds and drain. Place rinsed quinoa in boiling chicken stock and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until all liquid has been absorbed (10-15 minutes), stirring occasionally. Quinoa will appear translucent when its finished and a white ring will be visible around the saucepan. Remove from heat.
As quinoa is cooking, place chorizo in a large saute pan over medium heat. Break up chorizo into small bits with a wooden spoon. Cook through until lightly browned. Drain excess oil from chorizo. Mix drained chorizo into quinoa.
Place onion in the same saute pan used for chorizo and sweat onions until translucent. Add garlic and jalapenos, cooking on medium heat for two more minutes, stirring throughout.
Combine onion mixture with quinoa and chorizo. Add black beans, cumin and red pepper flakes, stirring until completely mixed.
Remove peppers from oven and cool for 5-10 minutes. Spoon mixture by heaping tablespoons into peppers, packing it firmly. Top with crumbled queso fresco, and return to 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove and top with fresh cilantro, and serve.