stuffed peppers with black bean crema

I am so flipping excited to share this recipe with you.

You have no idea!

Any stuffed pepper recipe I currently have on my recipe page is about to be deleted.

We have a new favorite.

This recipe was inspired 100% by a meal Chris and I had this weekend.  After our long day hiking up a mountain, I was in no mood to cook.  We went out for dinner, for the first time in awhile, to El Monte.  We had never been before, but heard amazing reviews.  It’s not right downtown and kind of set back from the street, so even after 1.5yrs here, we just now heard about it.

El Monte is Oaxacan inspired and the menu is packed with stellar options.  They use local, organic produce + meats whenever possible, use freshly cut avocados for each bowl of guacamole, and make all of their liquor drinks from scratch [no syrup mixes]. 

We were impressed with the menu and even more impressed that I had more than 1 option [gluten free + veggie can be tricky!].  Our server brought us a complimentary bowl of their original guacamole, which we requested.  You also have the option of “make your own” or “exotic guacamole,” which includes strawberries, mangos, goat cheese, and a few other ingredients.  We’ve heard it’s phenomenal.  The original guacamole did not disappoint and neither did the fresh chips + salsa.  They brought out a smoky red salsa + a tomatillo salsa.  The red was without a doubt, my favorite salsa ever.

Okay, I’ll stop gushing now.

Chris and I ended up ordering the same thing, a rarity.

Roasted Relleno – poblano chile stuffed with coastal rice, red quinoa, greens, menonita cheese, nestled atop crema black bean sauce, served with coastal rice + market fresh roasted vegetables

As soon as the first bite hit my lips, I knew this needed to be recreated at home.  While I changed up a few things, I kept the idea of the dish the same.

  • no poblano pepper – they’re expensive right now
  • no coastal rice – no idea what that is?
  • white quinoa instead of red – it’s cheaper!
  • small amount of black beans mixed into the rice/quinoa mixture – just because

The mix of ground brown rice and quinoa I decided on, was pretty spot on to the texture we had at dinner.  It was a thick, sticky rice, not lacking at all in moisture.

I decided to only lightly roast the pepper, so it still had a little bit of bite to it.  I also kept the black bean crema sauce a bit thicker and left more of the bean texture.

The flavors that night were fresh, but not overpowering.  I usually spice my Mexican-style recipes much more than this, but I loved the simplicity of the flavors.  The texture of the rice + quinoa mixture really sets this dish apart from other stuffed pepper recipes I’ve made in the past.  It’s so creamy that it seems indulgent.

Quinoa, Rice + Bean Stuffed Peppers [serves 3]

  • 3 large bell peppers
  • 1/2c quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/2c ground brown rice
  • 2c no/low sodium vegetable broth
  • 3/4c black beans
  • 2T oil
  • 1.5t garlic, minced
  • 1t ground cumin
  • 1/2t oregano
  • 1/2-1t adobo chipotle sauce [opt]
  • 0-1/2t *salt
  • black pepper
  • cheese [opt]
  1. Wash your peppers, slice lengthwise and carefully deseed.
  2. Coat on all sides with a small amount of oil [about 1/2-1T total] and sprinkle with salt.  Set aside on a baking sheet.
  3. In a medium sized pot, heat 1T oil over medium heat.
  4. Once hot, add the garlic, cumin, oregano *salt [if using no sodium broth add 1/4-1/2t], and adobo sauce [if using].
  5. Stir constantly for 20-30 seconds until the garlic begins to brown. 
  6. Add in the rinsed quinoa, ground brown rice, and veggie broth and stir well.
  7. Turn the heat up slightly and bring to a boil, stirring every minute or so.
  8. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cover for 25min. 
    • Preheat your broiler on high in the last 5 minutes.
  9. Turn off the heat and let sit for 10min.
  10. Place the baking sheet with the peppers into the oven to broil for 3-5min per side.  The peppers should be slightly softened, but not charred or mushy.
  11. Fluff the quinoa mixture with a fork and gently stir in the black beans, and fresh ground black pepper.  Add more salt if needed.  The mixture with be very moist + sticky.
  12. Stuff mixture into the peppers.  Top with cheese [I used extra sharp cheddar] + broil if desired.

tips/substitutions:  Brown rice can be ground in a high power blender, coffee grinder, spice grinder or magic bullet.  Grind until the point of fine pieces, but not at all flour-like.  It will look like flakes of brown rice.  Arrowhead Mills also sells this.  If you don’t want to use ground brown rice, use 1c quinoa with 2c broth and reduce the cook time to 15min.  Chipotle adobo sauce comes in a small can and is extremely spicy.  You can freeze the sauce in an ice cube tray and store in a plastic bag in the freezer to use again.  Substitute 1/4t [or more] cayenne pepper + 1/2t chili powder if desired.

Black Bean Crema Sauce

  • 1c black beans
  • 1/4c half + half creamer
  • 1/2T oil
  • 3/4t garlic, minced
  • 1/2t ground cumin
  • 1/2t chili powder
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1/8t salt
  1. In a food processor/magic bullet/blender combine the beans and cream and process until smooth but not fully puréed.  You want some of the bean texture left in tact.
  2. In a small pan, over medium heat, heat the oil.
  3. Once hot, add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, cayenne + salt and stir constantly for 20-30sec until the garlic begins to brown.
  4. Empty the black bean mixture into the hot pan, reduce heat to med-low, and stir until combined.
  5. Let cook for 2-3, stirring frequently.
  6. Serve under or on top of the stuffed pepper.

tips/substitutions: To make vegan, I would use soymilk or plain soy creamer. 

To add a little more oomph to this meal, mix in a lightly seasoned protein of choice to the rice mixture.

And you always have the option to broil a little cheese on top.

Someone did a little happy dance in the kitchen today.

And that someone was me.



photography blog updated with the lovely krista + julian