2 c. (packed) fresh basil leaves
⅓ c. pine nuts (or chopped walnuts), toasted
5 cloves garlic, minced - divided use
⅓ c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
⅓ c. extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
½ c. diced onion
1 small red bell pepper, diced
6-7 small bell peppers (of any color) and/or summer squash
2 c. cooked grain of choice (such as quinoa, brown rice, etc.)
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
4 oz. crumbled feta (optional)
juice of 1 lemon (optional)
First, make the basil pesto: add the basil leaves, pine nuts, 3 cloves of the garlic, and Parmesan cheese (if using) to a food processor and pulse until chunky and well-blended. Add the olive oil and pulse again until mostly smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a baking sheet or large casserole dish, or line with parchment paper. While oven is preheating, heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add a teaspoon of olive oil, along with the diced onion, diced red bell pepper, and the remaining 2 cloves of minced garlic. Cook until softened, about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add to a large mixing bowl, along with the cooked grains, chickpeas, red pepper flakes, and ½ cup of the pesto sauce. Mix well. Once cooled to room temperature, stir in the crumbled feta, if using.
Slice the bell peppers in half lengthwise and remove the inner ribs. If using summer squash, slice in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seedy insides (discard or reserve for another use). Fill the bell peppers and/or summer squash with the filling mixture and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 22-30 minutes. Drizzle tops with the fresh-squeezed lemon juice, if using, and serve hot.
Recipe adapted from: http://cookieandkate.com/2011/stuffed-globe-zucchini-recipe/