Maria from the Erlexte B&B in Lagaurdia shared her recipe for stuffed Piquillo peppers with us last week, and she inspired me to create my own version. As she said, this is a great way to use up leftovers. If you have plain leftover quinoa (or other grains for that matter), here's where you can use it. But I also include directions for cooking quinoa if you don't have any leftover.
A favorite flavor pairing for me is dill, currants, and lemon. It's probably a carryover from a particular Sicilian pasta dish I love (which I should also share with you sometime). But the sharpness of these flavors along with tangy goat cheese and crunchy pine nuts provide a perfect contrast to the sweet peppers.
Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers with Dill, Currants, and Goat Cheese
Serves 4-6 as a side, 3 as a main
Notes: I used long sweet Italian red peppers because they are sometimes easier to find than Piquillo peppers and are a larger but similar shape so they lay nicely on a platter when stuffed. If you want something smaller and can find jarred Piquillo peppers, they would also be great here and you would be able to skip the first step of blistering them to remove the skin. I have not tried it but you could also use small red/yellow bell peppers (~4), but you'll want to serve in a small dish with sides so the peppers are touching and don't fall over.
6 long sweet Italian peppers
1 cup quinoa, rinsed (or ~3 1/2 - 4 cups leftover, cooked quinoa)
2 Tbsp currants
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste) + freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup dill, chopped
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1 1/2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
Turn oven to broil. Place peppers on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet and broil in oven until black and blistered on all sides (~3-5 minutes per side). Transfer to a large glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let steam for 20 minutes. Gently peel the skin away (it should come off easily), stem, and seed.
If you are using leftover cooked quinoa, skip this step: In a medium saucepan, bring 1 3/4 cup water to a boil, add quinoa, currants, and few pinches salt. Cover, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed.
In the meantime make the dressing in the bottom of a medium mixing bowl. Mix together lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and dill. Fluff cooked quinoa with fork and add to dressing while still warm (if using leftover quinoa you may want to warm it before adding to the dressing - it will absorb the flavors better). Add pine nuts and goat cheese (if goat cheese is not soft do your best to break it up and it will melt down when stirred in) and stir to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
Place peppers on a serving plate or platter and use a spoon to fill them with quinoa. If there's leftover quinoa you can spoon it on the platter around the peppers.