Stuffed Poblano Quinoa Bake
Greetings from LA, people of the Internet!
I’m here all week for work-related activities, and I’m squeezing in some QT with my dad, little brother, and a handful of my favorite LA residents, which is always a treat. I just feel healthier and happier when I’m here and all connected to my Californian roots and shit. Vitamin D, and farmer’s market salads, and turmeric shots, oh my! (I’m mildly ashamed to admit that I’ve really let my inner Gwyneth off her leash this week, and she is going HAM on the SoCal wellness kool-aid.)
My roommate and I currently have a 5-7 year plan to move out here—the dude likes to tack on a couple extra years every so often, which is unforgivable—but I’m hoping to bump up that timeline significantly. I’ve actually come up with a detailed plan that I think will be quite effective in accomplishing my goal:
Marry. Gift Logan a very cute pupper that he is obsessed with. Kidnap said pupper and take it to LA where I have secretly purchased a house. Tell Logan that if he ever wants to see his dog (or me) again, he knows where to find us. BOOM. We live in California!!
And Logan says he’s the “planner” in the relationship. Pish-tosh emoji.
The only downside to this week’s LA adventure is the fact that I’m currently staying at the world’s creepiest Airbnb. I chose it because I needed a kitchen for various thangs this week (and the kitchen is great!), but I now regret choosing to stay in a strange 2-bedroom apartment solo. The rooms are giant—much bigger than the pictures suggested—and there are approximately six pieces of furniture in the entire place, which has far too many intruder hiding spots closets for my liking.
Long story short, I get very cold/lonely/scared at night, and my new bedtime routine is to cocoon myself in the bed and fantasize about being koala hugged by Logan in front of a fire while eating a piping hot bowl of Stuffed Poblano Quinoa Bake.
I know I say this about every new quinoa bake, but this quarter’s offering might be my best one yet! (Okay, okay. Second best. Cheeseburger Quinoa Bake is the Beyoncé of my bakes. She shall never be dethroned.)
I modeled this epic whole grain casserole on the classic flavors of a stuffed poblano. There’s something supremely comforting about the combo of meat, beans, melted cheese, and the smoky spice of roasted poblano peppers, and this bake really brings the heat on the flavor front. I made a few different versions before settling on the perfect ingredient proportions in this recipe, and I am Logan-style psyched for you to finally take this bake for a spin. I’m anxiously awaiting your compliments feedback.
As with all quinoa bakes, this hearty and seemingly indulgent recipe still falls into the healthy(ish) category and is very much Dude Diet approved. Superfood quinoa provides plenty of whole grain fiber and protein, pinto beans and a good salsa (please choose one with minimally processed ingredients and limited sugar or make your own) serve up a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and the responsible amounts of 90% lean ground beef and cheese won’t derail your wonderland body progress. If you want to lighten things up a tad, feel free to sub ground chicken or turkey for beef and add a handful of chopped spinach or kale into the mix. I salute you.
I’m also pleased to report that executing this quinoa bake is relatively painless, and the entire recipe will run you under an hour from start to finish. (Don’t panic, only half of that is hands-on time. You can do it!) The only annoying step is prepping the poblanos, but it’s really not so bad. Just pop the whole peppers under the broiler until they’re lightly charred and let them cool for a few minutes. Once cooled, remove their skins (they should peel right off), seed them, and give them a rough chop. Done and done. And you can deal with all the pepper shenanigans while your quinoa cooks and rests. Efficiency!
As you can see from the glamour shots, I garnished this particular bake with sliced avocado, cilantro and extra salsa, BUT I have since experimented with different toppings, and I encourage you to do the same. A little guac and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, a sprinkling of scallions, pickled jalapenos, chopped lettuce if you like a little greenery and crunch, etc. Get creative, friends.
Stuffed Poblano Quinoa Bake: (Serves 4 generously)
1 cup uncooked quinoa, drained and rinsed
1½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth (Low-sodium beef or chicken broth are also great!)
2 large poblano peppers
¾ pound lean ground beef
2 teaspoons smoked paprika, divided
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
1 15.5-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1¼ cup salsa
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1½ cups grated pepper Jack cheese, divided
¼ cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
For serving: (optional)
Sliced avocado or guacamole
Hot sauce of your choice
Preparing your Stuffed Poblano Quinoa Bake:
-Combine the quinoa and vegetable broth in a small saucepan and to a boil. Lower to a simmer, cover the saucepan with a lid, and cook for 14 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Let the quinoa rest, covered, for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
-Meanwhile, char the poblanos. Pre-heat the broiler on high. Place the peppers on a baking sheet.
-Broil for 10-15 minutes, turning the peppers every few minutes, until softened and lightly charred in spots.
-Let the peppers cool to room temperature, then remove their skins. (You should be able to easily peel the skin off easily with your hands!) Slice the peppers in half, and remove and discard the seeds and stems.
-Finely chop the peppers and briefly set aside.
-Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
-Heat a large (12- to 14-inch) cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the ground beef to the pan. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring and breaking up the meat into very small pieces with a spatula or wooden spoon, until completely browned. Add 1¾ teaspoons of the smoked paprika and the cumin to the beef. Cook for 1 minute to toast the spices.
-Stir in the chopped peppers and pinto beans.
-Stir in the salsa, making sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
-Turn off the heat and fold in the cooked quinoa, cilantro, and half of the cheese. (Taste your filling. It shouldn’t need any salt, but it’s always worth checking.) Lightly smooth the top of the filling with a spatula. Add the remaining cheese in an even layer and sprinkle with the panko and the remaining ¼ teaspoon of smoked paprika.
-Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the panko is very lightly browned. Serve warm with toppings of your choice.
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