The term “comfort food” isn’t something you hear uttered very often during summer. Most of our plates are filled with fresh salads and sweet fruits, helping us rehydrate after a parched winter. However, when August begins and the second stretch of summer is upon us, I find myself fantasizing about cooler nights filled with warm plates. I know, it is too soon for most of us to fathom summer’s end – and after living in a four season state the past two years I came to know what the true love of summer is all about! But now having returned home to the coastal two seasons it is hard to believe it won’t be cooling down for long. So as far as comfort food goes, I just couldn’t wait.
Cue: stuffed bell peppers. These (to me) are summer’s version of comfort food. A quick bake in the oven, and a pot on the stove for 15 minutes is all is takes to make yourself a little late summer’s night plate of comfort. It’s hard to believe I have neglected one of my favorite vegetables here for so long. I eat a bell pepper almost every day in the summer. Typically just with a few spoons of hummus. But here, the sweet yellow gems of summer get to shine. Alongside a simple stuffing made of quinoa, lemon, garlic, basil, cannellini beans, a good glug of olive oil, and a new favorite around these parts – broccoli rabe.
Perfect for holding up in your grain and legume stuffings, broccoli rabe is this sturdy vegetable that may remind you of broccoli with its baby florets, however it is closer to a cabbage, and you can tell when you bite into the crunchy leaves! I love the taste of a slightly bitter broccoli rabe after it has been blanched. Especially once it is tossed with the lemony quinoa and topped with a total all-star, the glorious pine nut parmesan. I’ve made several parms from various nuts and seeds in the past, but the buttery richness of pine nuts is sometimes just so needed. Here it adds another level of comfort, and these peppers just aren’t as cozy without a good spoonful on top.
Drink your smoothies and chop your salads all day, and then sit back at night to a plate of summer comfort food at it’s best. Bright, vibrant, and full of soul soothing flavors. That’s what we are all about lately, and there may or may not have been a batch of brownies (hot from the oven) consumed directly after. A girl can only eat so many salads and smoothies before she needs to sink her teeth into something with a bit more oomph. (By the way, the aforementioned brownie recipe will be coming to you this fall – get your legs ready to do some dancing, it’s kind of amazing.) Cozy hugs to you all, while in tank tops in front of the window AC unit of course. – xx
GARLIC & LEMON QUINOA STUFFED BELL PEPPERS W/ BROCCOLI RABE
Makes 4 servings as an appetizer, or 2 as a main course.
1/2 bunch of Andy Boy broccoli rabe
1/2 cup dry quinoa (soaked for 6 to 8 hours)
1 cup filtered water
1 cup cooked cannellini beans
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 garlic glove, grated
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
a few dashes black pepper
pine nut parmesan
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon nutritional yeast
2 yellow bell peppers, medium size
Drain and rinse the soaked quinoa well, and add it to a pot on the stove with the cup of filtered water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Let cook until all of the water is absorbed (about 10 minutes, or a few longer). Remove the pot from the heat and leave covered to steam for an additional 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Slice each bell pepper in half, remove the stem, and scrape out the seeds. Place the pepper halves on a parchment lined baking sheet with the cut sides facing up. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
While the peppers are roasting, trim the broccoli rabe so you are left with only the florets, leaves, and their soft stems (about 2 loosely packed cups worth). Break into bite size pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. Bring a kettle of water to a boil on the stove and pour over the broccoli rabe. Let the rabe sit in the hot water for about 10 seconds, then drain well – squeezing out as much water as you can. Add the rabe to a large mixing bowl and cover with a towel to keep warm.
Add all of the ingredients for the pine nut parmesan to a small food processor, or a mortar. Blitz a few times to break the nuts into pieces and to incorporate the seasonings. If using a mortar and pestle, grind until it reaches a slightly chunky consistency (or the texture you desire). Set aside.
Fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork and toss into the mixing bowl with the broccoli rabe. Add the cannellini beans, lemon juice, olive oil, grated garlic (I use a microplane), dried basil, salt, and pepper. Toss well to combine, and take a little taste to make sure it suites your seasoning preference.
Divide the quinoa stuffing between the four halves of bell pepper and top with a generous spoonful of the pine nut parmesan. Enjoy right away while still warm.
NOTE: For the bell peppers I chose the yellow variety because they are mellow and sweet, just perfect for this stuffing. However, the red variety will do as well – or even the purple if your market has them in season.
This post was sponsored by Andy Boy Broccoli Rabe. All words and opinions are my own, and I truly love their produce. Thank you for supporting Faring Well by supporting it’s wonderful sponsors!