I've been reading a book called The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. It's quite fascinating, even though it reads like a dry documentary in print, especially if you have a particular interest in what's in your food and where your food comes from.
The author explores each of our current food chains - industrial foods, organic foods, and foraged foods and follows them from source to plate. Pollan is honest in his research and earnest in his rhetoric without being too preachy. The book illustrates our current agricultural industry as an unsustainable food supply both economically and environmentally because we've gone from the basic consumption of the sun's energy to the consumption of fossil fuels to deliver our nutritional needs.
In my imagination, it doesn't seem much more far fetched than Soilent Green. I think what bothers me the most is how we as a civilization have removed ourselves and our animals outside the laws of nature thus becoming superficial eaters and subsequent slaves to our own unnatural machine.
The organic farming industry has become exactly what the original organic movement was fighting against - an industry, even though the environmental and economical practices are quite improved over conventional farming.
Anyway, that's been on my mind lately, and my little summary here barely scratches the surface of the information contained within this book, so be sure to check it out!
So, who's hungry?
Start with some oil in a pan on medium and drop in your onions, celery and jalapeno. Tonight, I'm ommitting the onions because of their adverse affect on my tummy, and I'm also skipping the jalapeno because the pepper-jack cheese has all the heat I'll be needing (I'd probably throw in the jalpenos, but Jen's not really a fan). Saute this until the veg is soft.
Stir in the cumin and garlic..
Add the tomatoes and cook the water out - this took less than a minute for me because I squeezed the water out of them when draining them. Add your black beans and quinoa. Add the cup and a half of water.
Be sure to rinse the quinoa off really well. The quinoa plant has a natural chemical coating that works as a pesticide that can taste bitter if not rinsed off properly. Also, more quinoa trivia - quinoa is pronounced ki-nwa or keen-wah and it's not a grain; it's a seed from a grain-like plant.
Quinoa is also an anamolous non-meat food that provides a complete protein. You know the cliche - vegetarians don't get enough protein. Well, here it is! A complete protein is a source of protein that contains an adequate proportion of all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for the dietary needs of people or animals and quinoa has it!
Bring your quinoa to a boil and then let it simmer on low for about 20 minutes.
You'll know the quinoa's done when your seeds sprout and the quinoa is tender. Go ahead and mix your pepper-jack cheese in along with some much needed salt and pepper.
Pour the reserved juice from the canned tomatoes on the bottom of your baking dish. Spoon your quinoa mix into your pepper halves and place them in the baking dish. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 40 minutes.
This is so good and so healthy. The pepper-jack cheese really ignites this dish. The peppers have excellent sweet-tart flavor and the beans and quinoa make it wholesome and filling. The interesting thing about this is I didn't desire anything crunchy after I ate it. Despite how hungry I was I just decided to stop eating after devouring these two (that's usually not the case).
Try this at home! Especially if you're a skeptic of vegetarian dishes and/or you've never had quinoa before. This is a great dish to try it out and not but put off by it. Jen hates cumin, but after devouring her plate she looked up at me and asked how many peppers would be too many to eat.
Thanks for the recipe from Kelly over at Eat Yourself Skinny. I think it's been a couple years, but I found Kelly's blog through Foodbuzz, and Jen found her just by searching for vegetarian recipes.
Recipe for Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers:
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
- 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
- 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed, drained
- 3/4 cup quinoa
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup Pepper Jack cheese
- 4 large red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs removed
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion, celery and jalapeno for about 5 minutes, until soft, then add cumin and garlic and cook for an additional minute. Stir in drained tomatoes (reserving liquid) and cook for 5 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Stir in black beans, quinoa and 1 1/2 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Stir in 1 cup of cheese and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and pour reserved liquid from tomatoes in the bottom of your baking dish.
Fill each halved bell pepper with 3/4 cup quinoa mixture and place in baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes. Transfer stuffed bell peppers onto serving dish and drizzle pan juices over top. Enjoy!