Sometimes, words can elude me. I can stammer, totally lose the next word in the middle of a sentence, and stumble along while hunting for the right words. A title for this post completely stumped me. This is a recipe for Peppers stuffed with Chicken and Quinoa with a Creole Sauce. Lengthy, and frankly, boring. Various arrangements of those words didn’t work, and finally editing it down to just Stuffed Peppers was equally apathetic. I was trying different combos, assorted word substitutions, when I found myself singing “pepper pepper bo bepper, banana fana fo fepper……”. Yikes. Anyhow..
For some unknown reason stuffed peppers have been on my mind. My mom used to make them when we were growing up, and I hated them. We were a clean plate family. No leaving the table until you cleaned your plate. My father would tell us how good they were, my Mom would be all “Well, that’s what we’re having”, and I devised ways to either eat it as fast as possible or hide it and dispose of it. She stuffed green peppers with ground beef and white rice, then baked them with canned creole style sauce called Sauce Auturo. Somewhere in my teen years the Sauce Auturo became tasty and the filling was acceptable. I never found a way to like the green peppers. While I’m a fan of red and yellow peppers, especially roasted ones, green bell peppers are still not a favorite. When I was learning to cook, I would make the dishes that my Mom made, knowing that I could call her and get directions. Occasionally I made stuffed peppers, and found that if I made them with red peppers it was more than bearable. It’s been years, many years since I’ve made stuffed peppers so I can’t tell you why they’ve been in the back of my mind for months now. So here it is. Re-done, updated, and pretty tasty, if I do say so myself. If you come up with a better name for them, I’d be interested in hearing that!
I used Quinoa in this recipe because it’s so good for you, and while it would bring volume to the stuffing it wasn’t going to compete with flavor of the veggies and chicken. Quinoa is kind of like couscous in the taste department. As in it really needs to have flavor put into it or it doesn’t taste like much. In my humble opinion that is. I know you all are going to have a variety of ways you use it and cook it so that it has tons of flavor and I’m happy for you. Cook on! I’m betting that the first time you cooked it you used water and salt and then came up with all those ways of making it taste wonderful. As always, feel free to change whatever you’d like, this is how I did it. Oh, and on a happy note, this couldn’t be any healthier for you. Lean white meat chicken, veggies, and not a drop of fat.
The creole sauce on this adds a lovely spicy, tangy bite that is a great counterpoint to the softer flavor of chicken and veggies. I looked at more than 15 different ways of making creole sauce, and ended up making my own simplified version. So while there wasn’t one recipe that I adapted, my creole sauce was certainly inspired by all the many internet recipes that came up in my searches. Hats off to all of them.
For the Creole sauce:
1 14 oz can of pureed tomatoes
1/3 cup of finely diced yellow onion
1/4 cup of finely diced red or green pepper
1 tsp. of sugar
1 tbsp. of red wine vinegar
1 tsp. to 1 tbsp. of hot sauce
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 tsp. of dried thyme
1/2 to 1 tsp. of sea salt
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan, bring to a simmer, and cover. Cook at a slow simmer for an hour, checking occasionally and adding water if it starts to thicken too much. You want a more liquid sauce as you’ll be baking it and it will thicken then. I’ve seen chicken broth used in some recipes and you certainly could do that. I choose not to as I wanted the chicken filling to stand out. I found that this sauce needed quite a bit of salt, so start with 1/2 tsp. and work up from there to suit your taste. The same goes for the hot sauce, start small and adjust.
1 lb. of ground breast meat chicken
1 cup of cooked quinoa
1 tbsp. of finely minced shallot
1/2 cup of minced mushroom
1/3 cup of minced zucchini
1 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. of poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. of black pepper
1 tsp. of dried parsley
Cook the quinoa according to your package directions. I found that 1/2 cup of quinoa to 1 cup of water, 1/2 tsp of salt, brought to a boil, covered and simmered for 15 minutes worked perfectly. Mix the cooked quinoa with all the ingredients except the ground chicken, taste. You want this to be highly seasoned as you’re going to add quite a bit of ground chicken to this and you won’t be able to adjust the seasoning after you do this. Once it’s seasoned to your liking, add the ground chicken and mix thoroughly.
Cut the top 1/2 inch off of 4 red peppers and take out the seeds and pithy ribs. Slice a small bit off of the bottom of the pepper so that it sits solidly and doesn’t wobble. Fill with the chicken mixture, but don’t pack it in tightly.
Put in a baking dish, add 1/4 cup of water to the pan, cover with the creole sauce. Cover with foil, sealing the edges, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil (be careful of the steam) and bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes.