Quinoa Stuffed Vegetables

Quinoa. Not particularly new but new to us. We bought a bag recently as we hadn’t cooked with it before and wanted to experiment so we thought we would share one of those experiments with you! This recipe is great because it’s really flexible, you can use whatever you have lying around and give it a completely different spin with different herbs and spices and it can easily be turned into a vegetarian or vegan meal.  Here, we’re going for an Italian style with copious parmesan and a delicious and very pine nutty pesto.

Ingredients (for 2 people):

  • 100g quinoa
  • 500ml of stock – chicken or vegetable
  • 1/2 a white onion – finely diced
  • 1 small courgette – finely diced
  • 1 rasher of smoked bacon – diced
  • Fresh thyme (but dried would be fine too)
  • A selection of stuffable vegetables – we used red and green peppers and Portobello mushrooms
  • Parmesan
  • 30g pine nuts
  • A large handful of fresh basil leaves – finely chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Salad to serve

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Put the onion and courgette in a small saucepan with a lug of olive oil and leave over a low heat to soften, stirring occasionally. After around 5 minutes when they have begun to soften and become translucent add the diced bacon, and continue to gently cook for another 5-10 minutes. Rinse the quinoa and then add to the pan along with the stock, stir and put a lid on the pan. This needs to cook for about 20 minutes – remove the lid after 10 minutes so that all the stock is absorbed/evaporates and the grains of quinoa are slightly separated.

While the quinoa is cooking toast the pine nuts until lightly coloured and then crush half of them in a pestle and mortar to a rough powder. Add the basil to this, along with freshly grated parmesan (about 1 tbsp), the juice of half a lemon and a good lug of olive oil. Mix this together to form a thick pesto-like paste.

Not as attractive as the stuff from a jar but a damn sight tastier!
Not as attractive as the stuff from a jar but a damn sight tastier!

Once the quinoa is nearly cooked prepare your vegetables by removing the stalks from the mushrooms, cutting the peppers in half and pulling out the seeds. Place these on a baking tray. Mix the remaining pine nuts into the quinoa with the pesto mixture, reserving a few pine nuts to scatter on top.

We're suckers for heavy parmesan use.
We’re suckers for heavy parmesan use.

Stuff this mixture into the vegetables, top with the remaining pine nuts and a liberal dusting of grated parmesan. Put into the oven for about 30 minutes and serve with salad.

Finished Quinoa Veg
We can’t wait to try this recipe a few different ways, perhaps with a Greek twist (feta and olives) or a Moroccan one (harissa and lamb mince).

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