Monday, October 13, 2014

"Don't Be a Piggy" Quinoa and Sausage Stuffed Peppers with Tomato Fennel Sauce

I cannot even begin to tell you how good these were.  For a meal that was created out of the continued desire to cook through all of the "stuff" I have collected in my pantry and cabinets this came out just beautifully.

I used Wegman's "Don't Be a Piggy" Sausage crumbles mixed with quinoa for the and filling it was delicious. Of all the faux sausages out there I find I like Wegman's best but you could use whatever kind you like or have available to you.

The tomato fennel is sauce is awesome. Together this makes such a nice meal. Once baked with the peppers the tomato sauce gets nice and thick and has a lovely fennel flavor which compliments the peppers and sausage filling. I think the key to the sauce is using tomato paste plus vegetable stock as opposed to plain tomato sauce (check underneath the recipe for a cool tip I learned about tomato paste).

I am going to take the leftovers to lunch for a coworker and I tomorrow. That, with a salad and some of the Pumpkin Spice Sticky Buns I recently made (recipe soon) will make for a nice departure from the usual grab-and-go salad eaten at my desk while working.

Don't Be a Piggy Quinoa and Sausage Stuffed Peppers with Tomato Fennel Sauce

For the stuffed peppers:
6 sweet bell peppers halved and cleaned
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup vegetable stock
1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste*
1/4 cooking onion, chopped
1 tsp dried minced onion
1 13.2 oz package Wegman's Don't be a Piggy Sausage Style Crumbles (or other faux sausage)
1 tbsp fennel seeds
Salt and pepper to taste

For the tomato fennel sauce:
1/4 cooking onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
4 oz tomato paste*
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tbsp ground fennel seed
1 tsp dried, minced onion
Salt and pepper to taste

Green onion for garnish (optional).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a sauce pan add the quinoa and 1 cup vegetable stock.  Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling reduce the heat and cover.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Uncover and add the 1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste. Stir to incorporate.  Set aside.

Place the pepper halves in a microwave safe baking dish and microwave for about 3 minutes or until the peppers start to soften. Remove from the microwave.

In a large skillet over medium heat add the olive oil. When hot, add the onion and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Saute about a minute and add the sausage style crumbles, fennel seeds and dried minced onion.  Saute until warmed through.  Add the quinoa mixture and stir.  Set aside.  In the pot you made the quinoa in add 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and saute until translucent.  Add the garlic, saute another minute and then add the tomato paste and 1 cup vegetable stock. Whisk to combine.  Add the ground fennel seed, dried minced onion and salt and pepper to taste,  Heat until starting to simmer and then transfer to a blender and pulse until very smooth.

Pour the tomato sauce in the dish you microwaved the pepers in. Stuff the peppers with the quinoa and sausage style crumble mixture and place them in the tomato fennel sauce.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Remove from the oven, garnish with green onion if desired and serve.

*I don't know about you but I often find I use a small amount of tomato paste in a recipe and end up with a nearly full can of tomato paste in my fridge. Invariably, the rest does not get used or when I go to use it it is "too late".  If you have a recipe calling for a small amount of tomato sauce open both ends of the can and push the tomato paste out onto some plastic wrap. Cut off what you need and wrap the rest and pu it in the freezer.  The next time you need tomato paste take it out of the freezer, allow it to partially thaw, cut off what you need and re-wrap it and put it back into the freezer for next time.

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