Saturday 10 December 2016

For a burst of colour, go for a bell pepper

Aoife Barry

Published 28/08/2010 | 05:00

If there is one vegetable you're guaranteed to find in my fridge at any time, it's the bell pepper. Red, green, yellow or orange, they're all welcome in my humble abode.

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The reason for their popularity in this household? Their versatility. They can be chopped, diced, blended, roasted or barbecued; used in dips, stir-fries, curries or sandwiches. You can even juice them if you want.

Raw or cooked, peppers are a source of colourful fibre and a sweet, crisp vegetable. This week, they're used as a base to hold a Mediterranean-style quinoa mix that's flavoured with basil and balsamic vinegar.

Bell peppers -- or capsicums, as they are also known -- are part of the nightshade family, a genus of flowering plants that includes the potato, tomato and aubergine.

We are often encouraged to 'eat the rainbow', and adding a pepper to your meal -- raw or cooked -- is a brilliant way of adding a burst of nutritious colour to your plate.

Peppers are a fantastic source of vitamins C and A, and red peppers also contain lycopene.

Here, I have stuffed the pepper with quinoa, a gluten-free alternative to couscous that is great at taking on the flavours of whatever vegetables you add to it. It has lots of protein and magnesium and is a great, low-fat comfort food that's easy to whip up any night of the week.

I'm such a huge fan of quinoa that I try to never run out of the little Aztec pseudo-cereal -- I keep the pantry stocked with it at all times.

This dish would be delicious as a starter or as a main course served with a fresh salad.

I drizzled it with a balsamic reduction, which added a burst of sweetness.

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Irish Independent

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