4medium to largebell peppers ( I use red and yellow peppers)cut in half lengthways, pith and seeds removed
1 ½tbspolive oil divided into two portions - 1 tbsp and ½ a tbsp
¼tspfreshly ground black pepperdivided
70g( ⅓ of a cup + 2 tbsp) quinoa (dry weight)
1tspvegetable bouillon powder
1mediumred onion finely chopped
2cloves of garlicput through a garlic press or finely grated
1 x 400g ( 15oz) can of chickpeasdrained and rinsed and any shells removed
10 cherry tomatoeschopped
100g(⅔ of a cup ) feta
12pitted whole black olivessliced
The juice of half a smalllemon
50g( ¼ cup grated )mature cheddar cheesegrated (optional)
6 or 7medium basil leavesshredded + more for garnish
Preheat the oven to 180° C / 392°F.Place the peppers on a baking tray. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the peppers and sprinkle over ¼ teaspoon each of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.Place on the middle rack in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. The peppers should be tender but still firm.Once the peppers are done carefully lift them up to drain any liquid away then leave to cool.
Make the quinoa: Cover the dry quinoa with water add 1 teaspoon of vegetable bouillon. Stir well then bring to the saucepan to the boil, cover and simmer until all the water is absorbed.Once the quinoa has absorbed all the water fluff it up with a fork and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, heat ½ a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan add the red onion along with a pinch of sea salt. Cook until the onion is soft, stirring often. Add 1 teaspoon of dried oregano and the garlic to the pan and cook for a minute or two.Leave to cool.
In a large bowl add the chickpeas, feta, chopped cherry tomatoes, sliced olives, pine nuts. Once the onion and quinoa have cooled add these to the bowl and stir well. Squeeze half a medium lemon into the bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the peppers to a large casserole dish. Start filling the peppers with the filling. Don't be afraid to push the filling down. Once the peppers are full sprinkle some grated cheese over each pepper.Pop the casserole dish in the oven on the middle rack and cook uncovered for 20 minutes.Serve immediately.
Pro-Tip -Drain the peppers after you first cook them. This will stop the peppers and the filling from going soggy.
Leave the quinoa to cool - if you add any of the cheese to the cooked quinoa it will just start to turn to mush. It's best to leave the quinoa to cool then add it to the rest of the filling.
Cook the red onion and garlic - cooking the red onion and garlic before you add it to the filling results in a milder flavour. Raw red onion and garlic can be quite strong, I like to cook them up with the dried oregano and leave to cool before adding to the mixture.
Making ahead - you can make the filling a day ahead, just leave it to cool then fill the peppers once you've cooked them.
Freezing- if you want to freeze these stuffed peppers, don't cook the peppers first. Hollow out the peppers then fill them with the cooled filling. Skip the grated cheese until you are ready to cook. Place them on a tray then cover tightly and freeze. Once the peppers are frozen you can remove the tray. You can cook these from frozen, they will need about an hour to cook. I would add the grated cheese towards the end of cooking.
Nutritional Information - is calculated using an online tool and is approximate. The nutrition listed is based on two stuffed peppers per person.
Weights and measurements - For US readers, I use Cuisipro measuring cups and spoons, and a Pyrex measuring jug for liquids. These are the industry standard. Cup/spoon volumes can differ from brand to brand, for accuracy, I recommend weighing all ingredients if possible.