Stuffed Peppers, Four Ways

I think of stuffed peppers as the sloppy joes of the modern era. Few dinners offer up the comfort and ease of a stuffed pepper. But this new “sloppy joe” also offers up a wholesome addition of vegetables that helps moms and dads ensure their littles are at least getting some good foods.

There are endless ways to switch up stuffed peppers. The cooking methods for each a relatively similar, so I’ll go over the ingredients for each first recipe. Then I’ll discuss the cooking methods. As always, my advice is to use what you have on hand.

One note: In this recipe I call for cooked rice, but it isn’t necessary for all the dishes, especially for the Jambalaya. You just need to 1 cup of the uncooked rice, along with an appropriate amount of water or stock to the pot and let it simmer along with the other ingredients until the rice is cooked. For the ratatouille, however, start with cooked rice so your veggies don’t overcook.

Pepper Prep

These recipe works best with peppers that can stand up on their own and have a large cavity. Start by slicing off the tops of 6-8 large green, yellow, red, or orange bell peppers.

Clear seeds and ribs away from the inside of the cavity (I often just use my hands for this) and discard. Chop up any remaining edible parts from the tops and set them aside for the stuffing.

Many recipes call for coating the peppers with oil and pre-cooking them, but I find those steps unnecessary. Simply arrange them in a baking pan as close together as possible.

The Classic

1 tbl butter
1 pkg ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped small
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Cutoffs from the pepper, plus one additional small bell pepper chopped small
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 can tomato sauce or crushed tomato
2 cups cooked rice
Salt and pepper
1 cup grated parmesan and/or shredded mozzarella
Fresh basil to garnish

The Jambalaya

2 andouille sausages, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 chicken breast, also chopped into bite sizes
3 tbl cajun seasoning
1/2 onion, chopped small
2 stalks celery, chopped small
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Cutoffs from the pepper, plus 1 additional bell pepper cut small
1 can tomato sauce or crushed tomato
Additional stock or water for consistency (up to 1 cup)
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup gruyere
Fresh parsley for garnish

The Ratatouille (Vegan)

1 tbl oil
1 dried bay leaf crushed
1 tsp dried thyme
1 cup mushrooms sliced
1 small eggplant, chopped small
1 zucchini sliced
1 carrot shredded
1/2 onion, chopped small
2 stalks celery, chopped small
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Cutoffs from the pepper, plus one additional small bell pepper chopped small
1 can tomato sauce or crushed tomato
2 cups cooked rice
Vegetable stock as needed
1 cup breadcrumbs mixed with oil
Fresh basil, parsley, or tarragon to garnish

The Southwestern Turkey

1 tbl butter
1 pkg ground turkey
3 tbls taco seasoning
1/2 onion, chopped small
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Cutoffs from the pepper
1 cup corn kernels
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped (or keep the seeds if you want it spicier)
1 can tomato sauce
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup grated pepper jack cheese
Fresh cilantro to garnish

Cooking

Once the vegetables are all chopped, the process for cooking each of these is similar. Cook the proteins (or mushrooms) with the onions and garlic, as well as any dried herbs, spices, or seasoning mixes over medium high heat. Then add the rest of the vegetables, the tomato sauce, rice and any stock or water as needed. Let simmer on low for 20-30 minutes, until the stuffing is thick enough to spoon, but not dry (something like chili or other thick stew). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon the filling into the peppers. Top them with bread crumbs or cheese and put them in a 350F oven for 30 minutes. Garnish with any fresh herbs and serve.

PREP!

Stuffed peppers make excellent meal preps! You can complete a recipe up until it is time to put them in the oven. Store them in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for a month. When you are ready to cook them, defrost them in the fridge for the day and then cook them oven for 60 minutes at 350F.

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