Being an English major, recovering grad assistant, and homeschooling mom, I have that geeky flaw of loving BOOKS. And now that I am learning to cook, I have a particular fondness for cookbooks.

So when an anonymous donor gave me Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook, I held it lovingly in my arms, kissed it, and put it to work right away. This cookbook is great because it walks you through basics (like putting veggies in an oven) which seem obvious to most people, but are scary for novices like me.

Becoming emboldened, I combined two recipes, took out some ingredients that my husband and I are currently avoiding, such as salt and oil, and added some things of my own.

The best cookbook (like the best pair of running shoes) is the one that gets messy; and I’m pleased to say that page 33 now has a red pepper thumbprint on the corner.

Enjoy!

The Raw Materials

Red Peppers, as many as you need, (I used 4 for our family of 6) halved and seeded

1 sweet yellow onion, finely chopped (apx 1 cup)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 or 2 stalks of green onion, sliced into edible green O’s

1/4 cup (or more) fresh baby spinach, finely chopped

1 can chopped tomatoes or 1 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup (or more) fresh mushrooms, chopped

1/2 tsp ground cumin (more if you want it spicier)

1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed

Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 cup quinoa

2 cups cooked or 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained & rinsed

2 cups low salt vegetable broth or water

water, as needed during cooking

The Method

Send your oven on its way to 425 degrees.

In your enamel-coated, cast iron dutch oven (which I know you have by now), water sauté the yellow onion about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 2 more minutes, adding a little water as necessary, to keep from sticking to the pot.

Add chopped tomatoes and mushrooms, sautéing 2-3 minutes.

Add tomato paste, coriander, cumin, and black pepper; sautéing for another minute.

Add the uncooked quinoa and sauté for 2 more minutes, adding a little water to keep from sticking.

Add chickpeas and broth, cover and bring to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, put on very low heat, cover and cook for about 18 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid. Add baby spinach and chopped green onion for the last 3 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Fluff the quinoa-chickpea mixture with a fork.

Place the halved red peppers on a baking sheet and fill peppers with the quinoa mixture, being careful to NOT overstuff them.

Bake in your 425 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the edges begin to blacken.

Serve while steaming hot and enjoy the melt-in-your-mouth, zero cholesterol goodness of your quinoa-stuffed sweet red peppers.

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