If you keep up with my blog, you know that I love Mexican flavors — cilantro, cumin, lime, etc. If I had to choose one type of cuisine to eat for the rest of my life, it would be Mexican. And fortunately, it’s very easy to turn Mexican ingredients into a plant-based, super-nutritious meal!
I call this dish “Piñata Peppers” because the peppers are stuffed with all kinds of colorful ingredients — rainbow quinoa, black beans, corn, fire-roasted tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, and fresh cilantro. I top them off with my vegan queso, which adds a creamy element and makes them even more special.
But please, do NOT beat these peppers with a baseball bat.
I chose to use rainbow quinoa because I like the variety of colors, but if you have just one color you’d like to use, go for it!
If you’re not familiar with quinoa (pronounced keen-wa), it’s found in the grain section of grocery stores, but is technically a seed. It is sometimes hailed as a “superfood” because it is a plant source that contains all of the essential amino acids (in other words, it’s a “complete” protein). It also is an excellent source of iron, vitamin B-6, and magnesium. It cooks like rice, but is chewier and has a slightly nutty flavor. Try it as a rice replacement in your favorite rice dish for fewer simple carbohydrates and more plant protein!
Combine quinoa with the rest of the vegetables in this recipe, and you have a complete, colorful, and delicious meal!
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1-2 inches jalapeño pepper, seeds and pith removed, finely chopped
- 1 t. minced garlic (about 2 large cloves)
- ½ cup sweet white corn (I used frozen)
- 1 15.5-oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes (no salt added), drained
- 1 cup black beans (no salt added)
- 1 t. ground cumin
- ½ t. sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1 lime
- 2 T. chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
- 4 large peppers (bell or poblano)
- 1 batch vegan queso (See recipe link above. You will have plenty left over for chips.)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine quinoa and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes until all of the water has been absorbed and the germ has spiraled out.
- While the quinoa is cooking, cook your red onion in a splash of water in a separate pan over medium heat. Cook until the onion begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the jalapeño and garlic and reduce heat to low. Cook for another minute, then add the corn, tomatoes, beans, cumin, salt, and the juice of half of the lime. Stir and cook until heated, about 10 more minutes.
- When the quinoa and vegetable mixture are both ready, pour the vegetables into the pot with the quinoa and stir to combine. Fold in the chopped cilantro and taste for more salt or lime juice. Cover to keep hot.
- Wash the peppers, remove the stems, and cut the peppers in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and pith. Place pepper halves cut-side down on the baking sheet and bake until tender, but not losing their shape, 10-15 minutes.
- To serve, place two pepper halves on each plate so they resemble bowls (you may need to prop them up with small lime wedges). Spoon the quinoa-veggie mixture into each half and top with vegan queso. Serve with a lime wedge and extra cilantro, if desired.
You will probably have stuffing leftovers, so you can freeze them for another night or place them in the fridge to put on a salad sometime in the next 3-4 days.
Try these and tell me a plant-based diet is boring, I dare you!
Note: If eating a whole pepper doesn’t appeal to you, this quinoa-veggie stuffing also makes a great topping for nachos, taco salads, etc. Feel free to get creative!