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Brighten up the table

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  • (Photo by Tzu Chi Hawaii)

Quinoa, first grown in the Lake Titicaca region of Peru and Bolivia, has an impressive nutritional profile. These seeds are gluten-free and contain more protein than corn or whole-grain wheat.
Quinoa’s hint of nuttiness and slightly chewy texture combines well with other ingredients to fill colorful bell peppers. The addition of chestnuts gives this dish a holiday vibe — it would be a bright vegan addition to the Thanksgiving table.

Gingered Roasted Chestnut and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

• 6 medium red, yellow or orange bell peppers
• 4 quarts water
• 1 tablespoon salt

Ingredients for filling:
• 2 cups vegetable broth or water
• 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
• 1 cup finely chopped bell pepper tops
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 cup quinoa
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 medium onion, finely chopped
• 4 ounces cremini mushrooms chopped
• 1 cup chopped roasted chestnuts, shelled and ready-to-eat
• 3 sprigs thyme, leaves minced
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/4 cup pine nuts
• 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
• 1 tablespoon grated ginger


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Adjust oven rack to middle position.

Trim 1/2 inch off the stem end of each bell pepper. Mince enough of the bell pepper tops to make 1 cup.

Bring water to boil in 6-quart stock pot over high heat. Add salt to water, then immerse peppers. Lower heat to medium-high and cook until peppers begin to soften, 5-6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove peppers from water and drain in a colander.

To make filling: Combine broth, salt and garlic in a 1-quart saucepan over high heat; bring to rapid boil. Add quinoa. Lower heat to simmer. Cook 12 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. You should have 3 cups of cooked quinoa.

Heat vegetable oil in a 12-inch saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onions; saute 4 minutes, until translucent. Add minced bell pepper tops; saute another 2 minutes. Add mushrooms; saute 5 minutes. Add chestnuts and thyme; saute 1 minute. Add olive oil to mixture; saute 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Stir in cooked quinoa, pine nuts, parsley and grated ginger.

Place peppers cut-side up in a 9-inch square baking pan. Spoon filling evenly into each pepper. Cover with foil. Bake 25 minutes.
Serves 6.

Approximate nutrient analysis per serving (not including salt to taste): 340 calories, 16 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 700 mg sodium, 43 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 8 g protein. Nutritional analysis provided by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., CNS.

The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation is an international nonprofit with a local office in Kaimuki. Its mission of community service includes the promotion of a healthy vegetarian lifestyle. To learn more, visit or call 808-737-8885.

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