Stuffed Pepper Boats with Quinoa-Lentil and Hazelnut Pilaf

Turn colorful peppers into a tasty vegetarian meal or side dish for a meaty main
Stuffed Pepper Boats with Quinoa-Lentil and Hazelnut Pilaf

Photo Terry Brennan, Food Styling Lara Miklasevics

Make the most of the weekend and cook something that might not fit into your busy workweek, such as whole grains and legumes to create a healthy vegetarian dish. In this recipe by culinary instructor and cookbook author Molly Stevens, which she created for Real Food, sweet, thick-walled bell peppers make ideal “boats” to load up with a delectable pilaf. Just add a green salad and you’ve got a hearty vegetarian supper, says Stevens, or a single “boat” also makes an exciting side to any roast. Choose a mix of red, yellow, and orange peppers to make these as colorful as they are tasty.

Stuffed Pepper Boats with Quinoa-Lentil and Hazelnut Pilaf

Makes 4 servings as a main, 8 as a side

4 large (about 8 ounces each) bell peppers
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced celery
3 cups cooked quinoa (see Cook’s Notes)
1½ cups cooked French green or black Beluga lentils (see Cook’s Notes)
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
½ cup grated Parmesan, divided
½ cup grated Gruyere, divided
⅓ cup panko (optional)

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the cores, stems, ribs, and seeds. Brush inside and out with oil and arrange in a large baking dish. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery. Season with salt and pepper and sauté, stirring often until tender, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the quinoa, lentils, parsley, hazelnuts, and ¼ cup each Parmesan and Gruyere. Stir to combine, and add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture into the pepper boats, distributing evenly. Combine the remaining Parmesan, Gruyere, and panko (if using), and scatter over the top. Brush a piece of foil with oil, and use it to cover the baking dish (oil side down). (The peppers may be made to this point and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)
  3. Pour ½ cup water in the baking dish and bake until peppers are tender, 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 minutes to brown tops. Serve warm or room temperature.

Cook’s Notes:
• Quinoa: 1 cup dried for 3 cups cooked. Rinse, then combine with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, add a pinch salt, lower heat, cover, and simmer until water absorbed, 15 minutes. Let steam 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
• Lentils: ½ cup dried for 1½ cups cooked. Rinse. Place in medium saucepan with enough cool water to cover by 2 inches. Add a pinch of salt, and boil gently, until tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Drain and cool.

Nutrition info as a main dish with breadcrumbs (per serving): Calories: 550, Fat: 22g (Sat: 6 g), Cholesterol: 25 mg, Sodium: 380 mg, Carb: 67g, Fiber: 15g, Sugar: 9g, Protein: 24g

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.