These peppers. Are. The Bomb.
Let’s not beat around the bush, here. Stuffed peppers are great and all, but if you gave me a choice between stuffed peppers and enchiladas, we all know which one I would choose. I’m not gonna lie, I love me some enchiladas.
But I don’t like making decisions. And now, I don’t have to!
(Maybe this isn’t a choice you struggle with on a daily basis, but if it is, here is the solution to all your problems.)
These peppers are the perfect crossover from light-and-healthy to big-and-bold. They are naturally gluten-free and vegetarian (easily made vegan, or you could add meat if you want), but they are by no means lacking in flavor. Super savory, stuffed with quinoa, black beans, and corn, topped off with melty cheese and homemade red chili sauce…
Yeah, you get the picture.
Also, it is officially football season, and I predict these would make a great crowd-pleaser for a football party or potluck. I’ve never been tailgating, but I bet they would work for that, too.
Living here in the great city of Ann Arbor, home of the “World’s Largest” Sports Stadium, football season means not leaving the house on Saturdays for fear of getting trapped in the worst traffic ever… which is fine by me, because it means I get a front-row seat in front of the TV, and I don’t have to share my food with no one. No one!
(Let’s all ignore for a moment the fact that this blog is called “Will Cook For Friends,” shall we?)
The recipe is fairly straightforward, and endlessly versatile — you can make it as mild or spicy as you like, and use whatever veggies and grains you prefer. To cut down on the hassle, I suggest you make the sauce ahead of time and store it in the fridge until you need it. Speaking of which, it is great on eggs. And nachos. And everything.
Makes about 2 cups – gluten-free, vegan
2 dried New Mexican Chiles
2 dried Ancho chiles (sometimes called Pasilla chiles), or Guajillo chiles
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 (10.75oz) can tomato puree (about 1 1/4 cups)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Optional: a dash of cayenne, or pinch of crushed red chili flakes, to taste
*Note that tomato puree is not the same as tomato paste! 1 cup of tomato puree is approximately 2 TBSP tomato paste, plus enough water to make 1 cup.
1. Place the dried chiles in a bowl or large glass measuring cup and pour enough boiling water over them to cover. Place a cup or small dish on top to keep the peppers submerged, if necessary. Let soak for 15-20 minutes.
2. Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat and add the onions. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the onions begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from burning. Add the cumin, chili powder, and oregano, and stir for 30-60 seconds to toast the spices.
3. Remove the dried chiles from the water, reserving 1 cup of the soaking liquid. Split the peppers in half with a knife and remove the stems and seeds — I find it helps to hold them under some running water to rinse all the seeds away. If you prefer a bit more heat, feel free to leave some of the seeds behind.
4. Add the chiles, along with 1 cup of reserved soaking liquid, to your blender or food processor. Add in the sauteed onion and garlic mixture and the tomato puree, and blend until smooth.
5. Return the pureed mixture to the saute pan, and cook over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the sauce becomes too thick for your liking, add a little water to thin it down. Season to taste with salt and fresh cracked pepper, and adjust the level of heat with a a bit of cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes, if you want it spicier.
Sauce can be made up to a week in advanced, and stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
Enchilada Stuffed Peppers
Serves 4 (1 pepper per person) – gluten-free, vegetarian
4 large bell peppers
1 TBSP olive oil
12 yellow onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, diced fine (or 1/2 poblano pepper)*
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. chili powder
2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 roma tomato, diced
3/4 cup fresh or frozen sweet corn
1/2 cup black beans, cooked or canned, drained and rinsed
1/4-1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup enchilada sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup cheese, shredded (I used cheddar, but pepper jack, mozzarella, or a mix would all work well)
More enchilada sauce, fresh chopped cilantro, sour cream, salsa, etc.
*The heat of the pepper is in the seeds and veins — if you want to kick the spice up a notch, leave some of the seeds and veins in. If you want it milder, a poblano pepper has a mellower flavor than a jalapeno.
1. Preheat oven to 375f., and lightly grease a 9×5 baking dish. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, and place in the baking dish cut-side up.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno pepper. Saute for 5-7 minutes, or until softened, stirring frequently to keep the garlic from burning. Add the spices and cook, stirring, for 30-60 seconds more.
3. Add the broth and quinoa to the pan, stir, and increase the heat to high to bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Let simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender and the liquid has been absorbed.
4. Once the quinoa is cooked, add the beans, corn, cilantro, and enchilada sauce. Stir to combine, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Spoon the stuffing evenly amongst the peppers, and cover the baking dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and top each pepper generously with shredded cheese. Return to the oven and bake for another 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese is melty and browned.
Serve with enchilada sauce, cilantro, and any other toppings you like.