They have so many personalities, those bell peppers. I love sautéing them with a bunch of red onion until they are browned and overly-sweet; or, I love slicing them into “chip-shapes” and serving with mashed avocado. But most of all, at the end of the summer when the peppers are picked, I love coming up with recipes to fill them and let their colors shine. This time, I even kept them raw, vegan, and power-packed with nutrients.
Bell peppers have health benefits galore! Think of them as little energy boosters—they naturally boost your metabolism and they are filled with fiber. They also have more vitamin C than an orange! Plus, when we eaten raw, we receive all of the healthy opportunities the bell pepper offers us. Filled with beautiful bright-colored garden-fresh fresh ingredients, you have an energy-giving lunch—and then you can eat the bowl it came in.
For a while now, I have been addicted to making quinoa the easy way, while giving it layers of flavor. This means that during the last few minutes of simmering the quinoa, you add vegetables on top and let the steam from the quinoa cook them. (Less dishes, more nutrition, more flavor? I’m in.)
Look at these purple carrots. Have you ever tried these? All that beautiful darkness means they are high in nutrients that help protect your brain and give you glowing skin. If you don’t have a spiralizer (I didn’t until just last week!), you can make “carrot ribbons” with a vegetable peeler.
When the quinoa has been cooked with red onion, carrots, and fresh spinach leaves, finish tossing it with cumin, sea salt, and lots of chick peas. Stuff mixture into each half of the bell pepper. Then I love to sprinkle on lime zest and hemp seeds. If you’ve never used hemp seeds, you need to try them. They offer a delicious crunch, and are full of healthy fats. (And they look seriously pretty in their photo op, too!)
Celebrate the end of a beautiful summer with variations and whatever is picked from the garden. Enjoy!
Vegan Chickpea + Quinoa Bell Peppers
1/2 cup dry quinoa
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
1 cup carrots, peeled into ribbons (using a veggie peeler;)
3 cups baby spinach leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
1 cup chick peas, drained
2 bell peppers, any color will do
For the stuffing:
Bring quinoa and 1 cup water or vegetable broth to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and let the quinoa simmer for 15 minutes. During last 5 minutes of cooking, sprinkle red onion on top, and cover again. During last 2 minutes, sprinkle carrot ribbons and spinach leaves on quinoa. Cover again and finish steaming. Toss remaining ingredients into the pot with the quinoa so it’s like a pilaf.
For the peppers:
Cut the bell peppers in half and remove the seeds. Stuff some of the quinoa-chickpea mixture into each open bell pepper. Lightly sprinkle lime zest and hemp seeds.
I just pick up the bell pepper shell and eat this utensils-free. But if you feel the need to grab a knife and fork, I won’t judge you…
Thank you, Annessa! This colorful recipe is the perfect way to celebrate a late summer harvest! And I love the idea of working a vegan dish into the menu. Thank you also to Sarah Ann Noel for her help coordinating this series!
Annessa Chumbley is a dietitian, a mom, a part time lifestyle morning show host, and a nutrition news contributor. She shares healthy inspiration and and tasty recipe ideas on her site, Annessa Nutritionist, RD.
P.S. More In Season recipe inspiration.