Sunday 26 February 2017

For a burst of colour, go for a bell pepper

Aoife Barry

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.

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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