Traditional versions of stuffed peppers use green bell peppers, ground beef and rice. Here’s my recipe for turkey quinoa stuffed peppers with ground turkey, nutrition-packed quinoa and tomatoes plus warming spices and a little feta cheese for some tang. You can make the stuffing ahead of time to save time. Notes for dietary options are at the end.
Turkey Quinoa Stuffed Peppers: Choosing Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are packed with vitamins C, A and E and make a great vessel for a savory filling and satisfying dinner. For the bell peppers, choose red or orange. Brighter colored peppers have more nutrition in them and a sweeter taste. Pick through what’s available and choose fat, round peppers if you can. If all that’s available is long and narrow, don’t worry; the recipe will still work just fine. Just follow my notes.
Choose peppers that are smooth-skinned (not wrinkled), richly colored, and heavy for their size. On shape – if the peppers are short, squat and round, trim off the top and fill them whole. If they are long and narrow, do not cut off the top. Instead cut them in half stem to end all of the way through for filling. Trim out the ribs and seeds from peppers with your fingers and a sharp paring knife until they are clean inside. After cooking the filling, stuff your peppers and bake.
Make The Filling
I prefer mild tasting ground turkey instead of beef but this works either way. Even ground bison or lamb would work. I buy the 93% lean package. Instead of rice, I use light, fluffy quinoa. It’s a complete protein, meaning it provides all of the essential amino acids our bodies need. It’s a great swap for rice in this recipe.
For vegetarian, swap the turkey for your favorite bean. Black beans, Cannellini beans, kidney beans or pinto beans all work well. Use canned beans to save time. Rinse and drain them first. If you are not a big quinoa fan, swap cooked brown rice. Here is a post on how to cook recipe like pasta (my preferred method and it reduces arsenic). For vegan or dairy-free, use beans and skip the feta cheese. Add a tossed green salad and you are set.
Turkey and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 4 large red or orange bell peppers
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 large garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger or jarred puree
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 4 ounces crumbled Greek feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons dried currants
- Start by rinsing the quinoa under cold running through a fine sieve. Place rinsed quinoa in a small pot. Add 1 1/2 cups of cold water to the pot. Bring it to a boil, then cover and turn heat down to low. Cook 15-18 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to finish by steaming 5-10 minutes more. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
- Prepare the peppers to be stuffed. If the peppers are round and fat, cut off the top to open up the pepper. If the shape is long and narrow, do not cut off the top. Cut the pepper in half lengthwise from stem to bottom. With a sharp paring knife and your fingers, trim out the ribs and seeds until the pepper is clean inside. If they do not sit flat, trim a tiny bit off the bottom so they are stable. Be careful not to cut through the pepper.
- Heat oil in a medium sauté pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it is soft and translucent. Turn heat down to medium low if it starts to brown. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring. Add the turkey, cumin, ginger, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring to break up the turkey, until the pink is just gone. Stir in the tomatoes with their juice, currants, feta., parsley and quinoa.
- Fill peppers and mound it a little on top. Place peppers in a shallow casserole or baking dish, cover with foil and bake at 350°F degree oven until hot all of the way through, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees (74C), about 35 -40 minutes. Serve as soon as possible Alternatively, cool completely, cover the peppers and refrigerate. To serve the next day, heat covered in a 350 oven until hot.