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The Classiest Stuffed Peppers on the Internet

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For those nights when you get home hungry, stressed, and impatient, Hangry is here to help. Each Monday, Kendra Vaculin will share quick, exciting meals to rescue anyone who might be anxiously eyeing a box of minute rice.

Today: We interrupt our regularly scheduled Hangry content to bring you our first "Meet Our Contributors" post—Food52's version of show and tell. We're asking some of the voices behind your favorite columns to share a recipe that represents them (and explain why). Here, Kendra—the mind behind Nutella Popcorn Puppy Chow and Wasabi Pea Snack Mix—brings stuffed peppers into 2015.


Tell us about this recipe — what about it makes it you?
This is the first meal I ever made for my family from a recipe not in my mother’s drawer of tried-and-true staples. One summer morning during high school, I saw Giada make it on T.V. and I announced that it would be dinner. This was a huge risk, as all of my previous kitchen adventures had been vetted by my mom and deemed foolproof enough for me to tackle. This time, no one knew what to expect and I didn’t have a backup meal in mind. Thankfully, I didn’t need one—these guys came together without a hitch. While they didn’t make it into my family’s main dinner rotation (my parents are more of a meat plus vegetable plus side salad type of crew), I (mostly meatless) still come back to it again and again.

The original recipe is killer, but I make two small changes when bringing this dish back around. The first is using quinoa instead of couscous (I always have quinoa in my cupboard), and the second is subbing in nonfat Greek yogurt for crème fraîche in the sauce ( so that I can guiltlessly spoon the stuff all over everything and then directly into my mouth).



What is your desert island food (practicalities aside)?
We’re calling coffee a practicality, yes? Then it’s a tie between (1) fried eggs with greens and hot sauce, and (2) gummy candy—basically my main food groups. 

What is your fruit or vegetable spirit animal?
Radicchio is purple and surprising and sounds like a Harry Potter spell, and these are a few of my favorite things. 

What’s one food you pretend to like but secretly hate?
Ohhhh raw fish. If it’s not up to me and that’s what’s for dinner, I douse those sashimi suckers with soy sauce and grin and bear it; if left to my own devices, I am all vegetable maki all the time. This makes me lame and uncool and I know it. 

What’s something that someone wouldn’t know about you from reading your column?
I’m a serial weird crafter. I don’t have any actual artistic aptitude, but I love making big messes with paint. I bring home random sticks that I find in the park and glue things all over them. When I was packing up to move my old apartment, my boyfriend had to convince me to part with a small piece of burlap that I was certain would one day be integral to a craft. I was trying to stick it in my suitcase, and he was like, “No, no, no, when you get to New York, you can get a NEW tiny scrap of potato sack material, okay?” 

Left: Prospect Park in Brooklyn; right: Mount Diablo State Park in Danville.   

Could you tell us a little about your current home or hometown?
I currently live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where everyone has at least one cool hat and you are never more than three minutes from a bougie cup of coffee. For these and other reasons (the bridge! the park! my perfect grocery store!), the hood and I are great friends. 

If asked about my home, however, I would say Danville, California, the small town in the San Francisco East Bay where I grew up and where my family still lives. Danville is known for its giant oak tree mascot, a very cute farmers market, and Mount Diablo State Park. My childhood bedroom window has a straight-shot view of Mount D and I have a lot of love for that thing, as a place to hike or contemplate the universe or see a snake or have a picnic. I have long wanted it tattooed on my body, but it is hard to render all of those weird feelings into a smallish drawing. Suburban NorCal is responsible for my Giants baseball fandom and my habit of carrying of a light sweater everywhere I go.  

Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers with Basil Sauce

Serves 4

For the peppers:

1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup vegetable broth
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
1/2 cup dried currants
1 cup packed chopped baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Salt and pepper
4 bell peppers

For the sauce:

1 cup packed chopped basil leaves
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon water
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste 

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom