Growing up, a regular fixture on our table were yemista (rice stuffed vegetables). My grandma used to make them, my mum still makes them and I tell you, they have such a distinct aroma – I can always smell them even from outside the front door. That distinct smell of grains, olive oil and herbs….yum!!
Going to the green grocer recently I was thrilled to find smaller red capsicums there for the taking. They were the perfect size to stuff and also perfect to serve as a side to the steak on the menu for that evening! I didn’t have time to make a whole tray of mixed yemista (that is, tomatoes, eggplants, zucchinis along with capsicums), so I thought I would just cook the capsicums. Once I got home though, I realized I didn’t have any Arborio rice which is what I would normally put in my yemista. I’d been wanting to try a quinoa stuffed version and so took it as the opportunity to give it a go…and it was sensational!!
The quinoa cooked beautifully in the capsicum, without any need to cook it first. Combined simply in a single bowl with the other ingredients, it soaked up all the flavor of the herbs and olive oil and were mouth wateringly tasty!
This dish is not only a great accompaniment to some protein, it is beautiful, tasty and satisfying enough to hold its own. You can serve the stuffed capsicums solo for lunch as a complete vegetarian meal or even make a tray for meal prep purposes, or serve it at a shared platter style dinner party. Oh and also feel free to double the recipe if you need to , it completely works!
With summer just around the corner, they are also simple to cook the day before you plan to eat them, just dollop some yoghurt on top, place a little feta on the side and enjoy them cold – they are just as good!
I really hope you try this recipe and as always, please feel free to comment below and tag me in your socials if you make it!
6 red capsicums 1 cup tricolor quinoa, rinsed 1 large brown onion, very finely chopped or grated 3 cloves garlic, very finely chopped 1 redeye chilli, very finely chopped (and deseeded if you prefer not too much heat) 1 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, finely chopped 1/3 cup dill, finely chopped ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon ground cumin 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts 1 ½ cups water ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle Sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper
¼ cup Greek yoghurt, to serve 100g feta cheese, to serve
Preheat the oven to 160C.
Cut off the tops of the capsicums (retaining the lids) before discarding the seeds and membranes. Pop the lids back on and place in a baking dish large enough to snugly fit them. Sprinkle the insides of each capsicum with a little sea salt and a drizzle of oil.
To make the filling, place the quinoa, onion, garlic, chilli, herbs, spices, pine nuts, water, olive oil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and stir to combine.
Place the mixture in the capsicums ensuring you leave about ½ cm to the top of the peppers. Pour any remaining mixture between the vegetables. Sprinkle over some extra sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil both in and on top of the peppers (once you have replaced the tops of the vegetables). Finally, add ½ cup water to the empty mixture bowl and swirl it about to catch any herbs left on the bowl before pouring this into the bottom of the tray. Gently shake the tray so the water spreads across the whole bottom of the tray.
Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 1 hour or until the vegetables are completely cooked through and slightly charred in parts. Leave to cool for at least an hour.
It is best served slightly warm or at room temperature alongside some Greek yoghurt and feta.