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Roasted Sweet Peppers stuffed with spiced quinoa, corn and cotija cheese and served with chipotle dusted corn strips. | Photos by Shanda Foisy

It was one of those nights toward the end of the week when I desperately needed to use up some fresh ingredients in the fridge before they went bad. So, I gave myself the Quick Fire Challenge of making something I had never made before, with only ingredients I had in my pantry and fridge. So… no going to the store to fill in the gaps. What resulted was delicious. Justin and I had seconds and were dreaming of thirds.

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 4 sweet red, yellow or orange bell peppers. Cut in half and seeded.
  • 3-4 Corn (or flour) tortillas. Cut in 1 inch strips.
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water or broth
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup cotija cheese
  • 1 TBLS chipotle powder
  • 3 TBLS Taco Seasoning
  • 2 TBLS Olive Oil
  • Oil of choice for frying
  • Sea Salt and Pepper
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish

Method

Preheat oven to 400. Coat prepared peppers in olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on sheet pan and roast until soft and brown on the edges, about 20 minutes.

While peppers roast, bring broth or water to a boil and add quinoa. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until moisture is absorbed.

While quinoa cooks, heat frying oil and fry corn strips in batches until golden brown, turning if needed. Place on paper towel or paper bag to absorb excess oil. Dust immediately with chipolte powder and sea salt. Set aside.

During final minutes of cooking, add taco seasoning to quinoa. Remove from heat, toss with cheese, corn, salt and pepper (if needed.) Place mixture in pepper halves and top with chopped cilantro. Garnish with corn strips.

Substitutions and Tips:

  • If you don’t have or like quinoa, a cous cous or rice would also work well.
  • A feta or goat cheese can be used in place of the cotija.
  • Flour tortillas can be used to fry instead of corn. Or simply serve with pre-made corn chips. The goal is to have something to scoop the filling.
  • I used taco seasoning because I had an open packet, but you could also use a blend of cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic or onion powder and salt and pepper.
  • If you like things cheesier, top stuffed peppers with grated mozzarella and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
  • If you have other herbs on hand, basil or mint would also work well as a garnish if you don’t like cilantro (one of my friends thinks it tastes like soap.)

Pair

Something fresh, sleek, and crisp with acidity.

  • Try: Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Gris | Avoid: Chardonnay. 
  • Try: a Spanish Riojas or a Zinfandel | Avoid: Merlot or Cabernet

And as always…. a Mexican beer is always great with spicy food!