Stuffed Pepper Quinoa Bake actually balances indulgence and healthy eating, a precarious balancing act that your waistline and tastebuds will love equally. The healthiness comes from the quinoa, a fluffy and flavorful grain that forms the bedrock of this delicious dish, as well as the charred poblano peppers that add a little brightness and sweetness. The indulgence comes from the melty, spicy Pepper Jack cheese and the juicy ground beef. Altogether, Stuffed Pepper Quinoa Bake just feels fun and carefree, ready to energize you and make you happy with a simple serving!

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked, drained, and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 large poblano peppers
  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/4 cups salsa, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for serving, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Pepper Jack cheese, grated, divided
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • guacamole, optional, to taste, for serving
  • hot sauce, optional, to taste, for serving

Directions

Step 1 –In a small saucepan over high heat, add the quinoa and the vegetable broth and bring to a boil.

Step 2 –Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the saucepan with a lid.

Step 3 –Cook the quinoa until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 14 minutes.

Step 4 –Let the quinoa rest for 5 minutes, then fluff it with a fork.

Step 5 –Preheat the broiler on high.

Step 6 –Place the peppers on a baking sheet and broil, turning the peppers every few minutes, until they are softened and lightly charred in spots, about 10-15 minutes.

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Step 7 –Let the peppers cool to room temperature and then remove their skins.

Step 8 –Slice the skinned peppers in half.

Step 9 –Remove and discard the seeds and the stems from the peppers and finely chop them.

Step 10 –Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Step 11 –Heat a large, oven-safe cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.

Step 12 –Add the ground beef to the skillet and cook, while stirring and breaking up the meat into very small pieces, until it is completely browned, about 5-7 minutes.

Step 13 –Add 1 3/4 teaspoons of the smoked paprika and the cumin to the beef and cook until the spices are toasted, about 1 minute.

Step 14 –Stir the chopped peppers and the pinto beans into the beef.

Step 15 –Stir the salsa into the meat mixture, making sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Step 16 –Turn off the heat.

Step 17 –Fold the cooked quinoa, the cilantro, and 1/2 of the Pepper Jack cheese into the meat mixture.

Step 18 –Taste the mixture for seasoning.

Step 19 –Lightly smooth the top of the filling with a spatula and top it with the remaining cheese.

Step 20 –Sprinkle the panko breadcrumbs and the remaining paprika over the top of the bake.

Step 21 –Bake until the cheese has melted and the panko has very lightly browned, about 25 minutes.

Step 22 –Serve with the guacamole and the hot sauce.