Recipe loosely adapted from Cooks Illustrated.
- 4 large bell peppers (red, yellow or orange)
- 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed under warm water
- 1 1/2 Tbs olive oil
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 links hot italian chicken sausage
- 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
- 4 oz. smoked mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
- 2 Tbs chopped fresh basil
- 1 1/2 tsp fennel seed
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- Salt and pepper to taste
Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 Tbs salt and bell peppers. Cook peppers until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, remove peppers from pot, drain excess water, and place peppers cut-side down on paper towels.
Transfer 1 1/4 cup remaining hot water to a small pot. Return water to boil, add quinoa and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.
In the meantime, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add oil and swirl to coat. Add onion and cook until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add sausage and cook, breaking it into small pieces with a spoon, until sausage becomes opaque, about 4 minutes. Stir in garlic, fennel seed and red pepper flakes, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to bowl, and stir in tomatoes, cheese basil, and salt and pepper to taste. (The mixture will not be cooked through at this point, so I do not recommend literally adding salt and pepper to taste. You’ll need to use your best judgment to decide how much salt and pepper you like. Or, continue cooking a small portion of the mixture and then taste.)
Place peppers cut-side up in a 9-inch square baking dish. Spoon the sausage mixture evenly among the peppers. (I thought it looked like way too much filling, but it fit perfectly in my jumbo yellow and red bell peppers.) Spoon bread crumbs evenly over each filled pepper.
Bake until filling is cooked through, 25-30 minutes. (Optional: After 25-30 minutes, add more shredded cheese to the top of each pepper. Return to bake, or even flash it with the broiled, until cheese is melted.)
Yield: 4 servings
Nutritional Info (per serving)
Calories — 399
Total fat — 17.8 g
Saturated fat — 5.9 g
Cholesterol — 73 mg
Sodium — 778 mg
Carbohydrate — 31.2 g
Dietary fiber — 4.9 g
Sugars — 6.8 g
Protein — 28.7 g