How to feed vegetables to a crowd?
This is a question I’ve found myself asking often in recent weeks. I’ve been on the road, first in Lake George, then in Connecticut, each for a week-long trip with extended family.
When it has been my turn to make dinner, I’ve found myself wanting to make something vegetarian — like a big, chopped salad with chickpeas and cubed cheese — but worrying about two things: 1. How would it be received? and 2. Would it be substantial enough?
This time of year, when the produce is nearing its peak, it’s easy to throw together a big green salad or to steam a dozen ears of corn or to chop up a bunch of tomatoes and call the side dish done.
But how to make something vegetable-based for the main course when eight adults and eight children are sitting around the table? And how do you do this without spending three days chopping?
I don’t have a ton of wisdom to share with you all today — I’m hoping, in fact, you might share some of your thoughts below. I do, however, have one answer: quinoa-and-vegetable stuffed bell peppers. I made these peppers three times this past week, and while I didn’t even attempt to serve them to the children, the adults raved.
Loaded with a mix of sautéed zucchini, corn, and tomatoes, and bulked up with cooked quinoa and Monterey Jack cheese, these peppers feel substantial and satisfying, while also summery and light.
What I love about this recipe is that you can prepare it ahead of time — you can stuff the partially roasted peppers with the filling, then stash them in the fridge or leave at room temperature until you are ready to pop them in the oven for their final bake.
I also love that you can adapt the recipe as you wish. The vegetables can be swapped, spices can be added, any number of grains could be used in place of the quinoa, and any number of good melting cheeses could be used in place of Monterey Jack. Last fall, I made a variation with blistered poblano peppers, quinoa, and corn.
These peppers are not something I would suggest you whip up on a weeknight, but they won’t keep you locked up in the kitchen chopping for days either.
Friends, how do YOU feed vegetables to a crowd? What are your go-to recipes? Or tips and tricks?
How to Make Quinoa-and Vegetable Stuffed Peppers
- Gather your ingredients. Heat the oven to 475ºF convection roast.
- Halve and core bell peppers, leaving their stems intact. Drizzle with olive oil and salt, place them cut-side down on a sheet pan, and transfer to the oven for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile: Cook 1/2 cup quinoa in salted water for 9-12 minutes or until done. Sauté an onion with a hot chili (if you wish) until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add the diced zucchini, and sauté for a minute or two more.
- Add the corn and sauté for a minute more.
- Add the tomatoes, scallions, and cilantro, and turn off the heat.
- Add the quinoa and stir to combine.
- Add cubed Monterey Jack (or other cheese) and stir to combine.
- Remove bell peppers from the oven.
- Flip them over.
- Stuff the peppers with the quinoa-vegetable filling.
- Transfer pan to the oven (or transfer a few of the peppers to a smaller roasting pan) and bake for another 10 minutes or until the cheese melts.
- Garnish with fresh basil out of the oven and serve with lemon, if you wish.
Inspired by a recipe I made last fall for blistered poblano peppers stuffed with corn and quinoa from Leigh Belanger’s My Kitchen Chalkboard.
- 6 large bell peppers, halved and cored, leaving the stems intact (if you wish)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for drizzling
- kosher salt
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 hot chili, optional, finely minced
- kosher salt
- 1 or 2 zucchini, small diced, to yield about 2 cups
- 2 ears corn, kernels removed
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 6 scallions, finely sliced
- 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped to yield about a cup
- 12 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cubed
- basil or chives, chopped finely, for garnish, optional
- lemon for garnish, optional
- Heat the oven to 475ºF convection roast. Place the peppers cut side down on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with oil. Season with salt. Transfer pan to the oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the peppers begin to blister. Remove from the oven. Turn peppers over. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, fill a medium pot with water, and bring to a simmer. Add a big pinch of kosher salt. Cook quinoa 9-12 minutes or until the quinoa is done. Drain through a fine-mesh sieve. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. When it shimmers, add the diced onion and chili, immediately lower the heat to medium, season with a pinch of salt, and stir. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and begins turning translucent.
- Add the diced zucchini and cook for 2 minutes, just until the zucchini loses its rawness — you don’t want the zucchini to turn to mush; it’s nice when it has some texture here. Add the corn and cook for a minute more. Turn off the heat. Add the tomatoes, scallions, and cilantro.
- Add the quinoa and stir to combine. Taste. Add salt and pepper until it tastes well seasoned. Fold in the cubed Monterey Jack.
- Spoon filling into the cavities of the peppers. Don’t be afraid to really, really pack them full — it’s OK if the filling is heaped in a mound in each pepper. These peppers are meant to feel substantial. You may have a little extra filling on hand; it’s delicious on its own. Save it for another day or eat it.
- Transfer peppers to the oven and cook for about 10 minutes more until the cheese begins melting and the vegetables begin browning.
- Remove from oven. Garnish with fresh basil, if you wish. Serve with a squeeze of lemon, if you wish.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: stuffed, peppers, summer, corn, zucchini, cilantro, herbs, Monterey Jack