Hearty Quinoa and Vegetable Stuffed Capsicums – Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

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In primary school, one of my best friends was Adele – and her mother Michelle was (and I assume still is) an amazing cook. At Adele’s house – I’ll call it that because that’s what it was to me – I was introduced to foods like tabbouleh, and stuffed zucchinis. Michelle might not even remember making them but I still remember going home and telling my Mum that I wanted stuffed zucchinis for dinner again the next night. Come to think of it, I normally went home telling Mum that I wanted what Michelle had cooked… sorry Mum! Cut to a decade or so later – jeez, I feel old – and Ev’s mum made capsicums (bell peppers) stuffed with rice and pork mince – my love for stuffed vegetables was reignited.

I have made stuffed capsicums a few times over the last couple of years – sometimes with rice, meat and veggies, sometimes just veggies – but this is the first time I’ve used quinoa… mainly because the local supermarket was closing down and the stuff was actually affordable for once. I don’t know about quinoa prices in Australia but they can be pretty ridiculous in Seattle. Maybe I should try Costco.

Notes:

  1. Red capsicums are lower in FODMAPs than the green variety, which is a good thing, considering they’re much tastier as well. Sadly, they’re also more expensive… but you can’t win ’em all.
  2. Mushrooms, while low in fructose and fructans, are higher in polyols.
  3. The green part of chives are much lower in fructans than the white bases of the stems, although some are still sensitive enough to react.
  4. Cherry tomatoes and tomato puree are low in fructose, but some might be sensitive to their acidity or salicylates.
  5. Homemade vegetable stock can be tolerated by some fructose malabsorbers, because the onion (and/or garlic) itself isn’t eaten but removed from the liquid . Some fructans do make the transition between onion flesh and stock water, though, so it can still trigger a reaction in those who are particularly sensitive to fructans. It can be made more fructose friendly by omitting the onion/garlic in the cooking process. I will put up a “How to make Stock” post soon.

Quinoa and Vegetable Stuffed Capsicums

Serves 2 adults.

  • 2 large capsicums (bell peppers)
  • 1 x 425 g/15 oz can of plain pureed tomatoes
  • 2 x 1/2 cups FF vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa – any colour
  • 1/3 cup cherry tomatoes – quartered
  • 1/3 cup mushrooms (any variety you like) – sliced finely
  • 3 tbsp. green chives – sliced finely
  • 1 tbsp. GF soy sauce – or kosher salt to taste

Firstly, you need to cook the quinoa. This recipe can be made with leftover quinoa, if you have it, but if you don’t you will need 2 parts fluid to 1 part quinoa. I used half a cup of water and FF veggie stock each (1 cup total) and half a cup of uncooked white quinoa.

In a small saucepan, bring the water, stock and quinoa to the boil and then immediately reduce to a low heat and put the lid on. Just leave it until all the fluids have been absorbed by the grains, checking every 5 minutes. Mine took approx. 10 minutes. Give it a stir to make sure all the fluids have disappeared and remove it from the heat. Set it aside for later.

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Top and core your capsicums (remember I said red capsicums are FODMAPs safe – well the green one was for Ev).

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Finely slice the mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and green chives and stir through the cooked quinoa. Add in the GF soy sauce and check the taste; adjust as required.

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Pour the second half a cup of veggie stock and the can of tomato puree into a saucepan that will fit the two capsicums (or as many as you are making) snugly and keep them standing upright. Give the fluids a stir so that they combine.

You can fill the capsicums before you put them in the saucepan or after – it really won’t make a difference but I find filling them first easier, leaving just a little to top up once they’re in the sauce, to prevent spillage while you’re trying to squash them together. Put the tops on, and the lid onto the saucepan, and you can sit aside until you’re ready to cook as they only take 15 minutes.

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When you are ready, turn the stove’s heat onto high and bring the sauce to the boil before turning it down to a medium heat. Set the timer for 15 minutes and leave it be. After 15 to 20 minutes, the sauce will have cooked and steamed the capsicums – hence leaving the lid on. They should look similar to the next photo.

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I use tongs to gently lift the capsicum from the pot, let it drip for a few seconds and then place it on a dinner plate I have sitting near by. Serve with mashed potatoes, or possibly some polenta with cheese. Ev and I have tried so hard to find corn that has been milled finely enough to make good polenta in Seattle – all we can find is “grits,” which doesn’t do the job at all.

Pour the sauce from the cooking process into a small bowl and use it on the capsicum or mashed potatoes. It goes well with both.

Enjoy – but a word of warning, the capsicums are deceptive and are much more filling than they look. Don’t load up too much on the mashed potatoes, or you might not finish them.

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