Gluten-free vegetarian recipe with Quinoa filled bell peppers


The higher altitude where quinoa is grown, the sweeter it can taste. According to the Huffington Post, quinoa was referred to as the sacred “mother seed” by the Inca, a historical South American culture. 

Elizabeth DeCicco

It’s an ancient seed that’s gluten-free and whole grain, grows on a stem, and has a unique name – quinoa.

Quinoa, a native superfood of the Andes Mountains of Bolivia, Chile, and Peru, is a complete protein and is just one of the numerous meatless ways to satisfy hunger.

The higher altitude where quinoa is grown, the sweeter it can taste.

According to the Huffington Post, quinoa was referred to as the sacred “mother seed” by the Inca, a historical South American culture. They harvested quinoa in the high altitude of the Andes as their staple food for about 5,000 years. Spanish colonists, unaware of its value, almost eliminated quinoa before prohibiting its harvest among Native Indians. In the 1980s, quinoa was rediscovered in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain region.

Jennifer Campbell, a registered dietician at the Well, said quinoa has recently become mainstream and sold more frequently in grocery stores since there has been more awareness about gluten and gluten-free diets.

A quinoa seed has an outer protective coating, or saponin, that serves as a defense mechanism against birds and insects.

Thoroughly rinsing and soaking the quinoa beforehand is key. Otherwise, it will have a bitter taste. The saponins dissolve when quinoa is rinsed. The most simple method to rinse quinoa is using a fine mesh strainer. Pour the dry quinoa in the strainer, then hold under cold running water while constantly stirring, until the soapy residue has been washed away.

“One cup of quinoa has about 250 calories and eight grams of protein,” Campbell said. “Quinoa also contains magnesium and iron.”

Quinoa has all nine essential amino acids, therefore offering a complete source of protein. It can also be paired with other protein-rich foods, such as beans.

Despite being an omnivore and an occasional fan of barbecue cuisine, this colorful quinoa dish creates a wholesome but incredibly tasty dinner, along with spinach, tomatoes, black beans, carrots and cheese.

“Like tofu and eggplant, quinoa is able to absorb flavor,” Campbell said.

Roasted Bell Peppers Filled with Quinoa

6-8 servings


¾ cup uncooked quinoa

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 tablespoon ground cumin

4 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups of fresh baby spinach

Two 15-ounce cans of diced tomatoes, liquid reserved

1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained

2 large carrots, grated

1 cup shredded colby jack or mozzarella cheese (more to sprinkle on top, if desired)

4 large bell peppers


Heat the oven to 350 F. Rinse and cook the quinoa according to its directions. Set aside once cooked.

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute onion for five minutes. Add cumin and garlic, then saute for one minute.

Stir in spinach and drained tomatoes and cook for five minutes. Set aside tomato liquid.

Stir in black beans, cooked quinoa and carrots. Heat for a few minutes.

Stir in cheese, then season with salt and pepper.

Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise. Remove stems and inner ribs. Fill each bell pepper halve with a heaping amount of quinoa mixture, packing it inside. Place the bell peppers in a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish.

Cover with foil and bake for one hour.

Uncover, sprinkle more cheese on the bell peppers, if desired. Bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly. Drizzle tomato juice on the peppers. Devour!

(Recipe from Tastes Better From Scratch blog.)

Elizabeth DeCicco can be reached at [email protected]