26 Apr 2010

Crunchy quinoa & halloumi stuffed pepper

Well Seasoned food blog - quinoa and halloumi stuffed pepper

My best friend recently asked me to recreate a stuffed pepper she had eaten out, loved, and wanted a recipe to cook it from at home. She described it as both chewy and crunchy and after deliberating possible ingredients we decided the key one was halloumi cheese. At this point I need to confess, the following recipe is more of a summer take on the stuffed pepper she described as it’s been so lovely and warm this week. I’ve used seasonal fresh salad ingredients in the stuffing along with quinoa to provide the ‘crunch’ and a zesty lemon dressing.

Crunchy quinoa & halloumi stuffed pepper

1 large yellow or red pepper
100g quinoa – 1 small ramekin approx
2 small ramekins of cold water approx, or twice the volume of quinoa used
4 small vine tomatoes
2 spring onions
Small handful of flat leaf parsley
Small handful of rocket leaves or similar
200g halloumi cheese
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

To begin cut the pepper in half lengthways including the stalk if you can, although this is purely for aesthetic reasons! Carefully deseed using a small paring knife keeping each half of the pepper in tact. Place on a small baking tray and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 150˚C. The idea is to cook the pepper gently and soften but not for the shape to collapse, once cooked set aside.

To cook the quinoa firstly rinse the grain in a sieve under cold running water as you would rice. Place in a medium sized pan with the cold water and bring to the boil then turn down the heat, cover with a lid and simmer gently for 12-15 minutes until all the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is cooked. When cooked it should still have a slight crunch to it, each grain will look slightly opaque and you can see the germ has separated from the seed. Place the cooked quinoa in a sieve to drain away any excess water and set aside to cool.

Trim, wash and finely chop the spring onions and dice the tomatoes then add to a large bowl. Wash and roughly chop the rocket and parsley and add to the bowl along with the cooled quinoa. To make the dressing whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil then add half the dressing to the bowl and mix well. Season well at this point and make sure you taste the mixture to ensure you have added enough seasoning.

Slice the halloumi cheese into slices roughly 5mm thick then either lightly fry in a non-stick frying pan or on a griddle. Halloumi cheese is very robust and can withstand cooking unlike most cheese, it also has a high fat content so you shouldn’t need to use oil in the pan, unless it isn’t very non-stick in which case use a very little vegetable oil.

To compile the finished dish using a tablespoon fill the pepper with the quinoa mix and top with the slices of cheese, or if you prefer the halloumi could be cut into pieces and mixed in with the quinoa. The pepper can be used still warm from the oven or cold as can the halloumi, although the halloumi is nice warm. Drizzle the plate with the remaining dressing and serve with a salad for lunch, or for a more substantial meal with lightly roasted new potatoes, roast sweet potato wedges (I ate it with a little of both last night!) or anything else you fancy!

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