Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Italian Stuffed Bell Peppers with Turkey and Quinoa

Italian Stuffed Peppers with Turkey and Quinoa

4 large sweet bell peppers (5 peppers if your peppers are small)
Extra virgin olive oil or olive oil spray
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 package Jennie-O Lean Ground Turkey (1.25 pounds)
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried Italian Seasoning
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cans tomato sauce (8 ounces each)
½ cup low sodium chicken broth, divided
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
1 cup cooked quinoa
3 tablespoons fresh Italian flat leafed parsley, finely chopped
Garnish: Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut peppers in half lengthwise, remove stems and membranes, and place in a 9”x13”x2” baking dish, cut side up.

2. Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet with olive oil spray or a small amount of olive oil. Heat over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened. Add garlic, turkey, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, dried Italian Seasoning, and crushed red pepper flakes. Break meat apart and cook over medium heat for 14-16 minutes, or until well done. Add tomato sauce, ¼ cup chicken broth, dried oregano, dried basil, and sugar. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for about 5 to 8 minutes. The sauce will thicken quite significantly. Add 1 cup cooked quinoa and the fresh parsley, stir to combine

3. Spoon the turkey-quinoa mixture into the pepper halves. Pour remaining ¼ cup chicken broth in the bottom of the baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.

4. Garnish with a small amount of Parmesan cheese. Serve and enjoy!

A few weeks back, my husband and I were searching for healthy recipes on the Jennie-O Turkey website found HERE.  My husband had seen one of the Biggest Loser Contestants (from a previous season) make some sort of Stuffed Peppers and he likes stuffed peppers. We found the recipe for “Hannah’s Turkey Stuffed Peppers”. We decided to tweak it. The original version called for cumin, cheddar cheese, onion, garlic, and turkey. I made the Italian version above.

Unfortunately, my husband did not care for this dish, but I loved it. If you look at the original version of the recipe found HERE, you’ll see that I added significantly more tomato sauce, I added lots of dried herbs, as well as some cooked quinoa. The texture of this dish is what turned my husband off. He’s accustomed to another version of Italian Stuffed Peppers I make for him which are stuffed with tube-shaped pasta, provolone cheese, Parmesan cheese, ground pork, marinara sauce and Italian herbs. In my updated, healthier version, there is not a lot of textural difference… that is, the consistency of everything is quite soft and quite moist. If one were looking for a dryer texture, I would recommend reducing the amount of tomato sauce and/or chicken broth in the sauce. As for me, I enjoyed the peppers as is. They reheated great for my lunches at work. When I reheated my leftovers in my office, folks were asking, “Oh, what’s that great smell!?” Also, I considered calling these peppers Mile High Peppers because I had so much filling for my pepper halves. If your peppers are on the small side, you might want to use 5 peppers instead of just 4 peppers or you will have a lot of left over filling.

If you would like to see MY original Italian Stuffed Pepper recipe, click HERE. I can tell my newer version is much lighter and healthier.

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