A lean twist on a classic stuffed pepper, these stuffed peppers contain all the key ingredients of ground meat, zesty tomato sauce, comforting rice, and melty cheese and skimp on flavor none, whatsoever!
Coming back from Jamaica + a bonus few days off for the Thanksgiving holiday and the weekend? BRUTAL. Coming back to illness plaguing the workplace upon your return? Doubly BRUTAL. I won’t be sad to see this week behind me, that’s for sure! I was talking to a friend, talking through my pain points, and she asked if I would still go to book club and hockey tonight, to which I responded: YES! Extroverts recharge in very peculiary ways at times. Plus, I’ve been a cooking machine since we got back to the daily grind and I’ve got lots of leftovers for my crew to enjoy. But, ah-ha! These stuffed peppers were finished by yours truly for lunch today and I enjoyed every last bite. There’s something so very comforting about a classic stuffed pepper and the cooler months are the ideal time to enjoy if you ask me!
ROLL CALL FOR THIS RECIPE
- Health Seekers: These stuffed peppers are rich in fiber, low in saturated fat, and are a nice balance of protein, carbohydrate, and a bit of fat, too. Packed with whole grains, vegetables, and lean meat they’re a perfectly balanced household favorite!
- Meal Preppers: This pepper recipe can easily be prepared ahead of time, fully baked or not. The more time-consuming meal prep can be done when YOU have the time and enjoyed when YOU want!
- Adaptable: WIth no shortage of different stuffed pepper varieties, these can be adapted any number of ways to make any taste buds sing!
KEY INGREDIENTS AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Olive Oil: Extra-virgin olive oil is an excellent choice for its antioxidants and monounsaturated fat content, in addition to its delicious, rich flavor, however avocado or another high spoke point oil will work.
- Onion: Classic to stuffed peppers, diced onion from a yellow, white, or sweet onion are traditional. Red onion can certainly be used as an alternative. If you don’t enjoy onion, omit this ingredient.
- Bell Peppers: I prefer the savory flavor of green bell peppers in a traditional stuffed pepper recipe, however any color of bell pepper or combination of colorful bell peppers works great.
- Tomato Sauce: Tomato puree or crushed tomatoes can work as a substitute (with a bit of tomato paste if you have it), as can a marinara sauce
- Black Pepper: A generous amount of ground black pepper is key to the flavor profile, however you can omit if you prefer.
- Seasoning: This recipe keeps the seasonings simple with just a bit of Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper flakes for some heat. Feel free to add individual spices such as onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, or parsley.
- Garlic: A bit of fresh garlic elevates the dish beautifully – use more, less, or none, as you prefer. Feel free to use jarred minced garlic or substitute in 1-2 teaspoons of garlic powder, if you prefer.
- Chicken: Ground beef is traditional in stuffed peppers, however lean ground chicken breast is an ultra-lean alternative used in this recipe. Feel free to use whatever protein source you prefer: ground beef, ground turkey, or vegetarian crumbles.
- Rice: A pouch of minute brown rice keep things quick and whole grain, however leftover rice or any cooked rice – white rice, wild rice, cauliflower rice, or quinoa works well.
- Cheese: Just a bit of shredded mozzarella cheese atop each stuffed pepper and quickly broiled to a bubbly, browned perfection is a key to stuffed pepper perfection! You can use whatever cheese you prefer, however. A hard parmesan cheese or cheddar cheese are good alternatives.
VARIATIONS, STORAGE, and TIPS
- Tasting the chicken mixture before stuffing into the sweet bell peppers is a great way to adjust the seasoning to your liking.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- There is no shortage of stuffed pepper variations, be sure to check out the links below. You can even make Stuffed Pepper Soup – yum! Some versions use taco spices while others use beans and unique proteins such as chorizo!
- For busy weeknights, prepare the stuffed peppers ahead of time and rewarm as leftovers. They’re even better the next day!
Why do you put tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking dish?
There’s a “steaming” aspect to covering with foil and having a bit of moisture in the bottom of the pan or baking dish that is enhanced when the dish is covered with aluminum foil, as instructed. Any type of moisture in the bottom will work, however, even a little water or chicken broth works well.
Some stuffed pepper recipes call for par-baking the peppers before stuffing, should I do that?
Nope! Roasting them with foil on to create that bit of steam creates crisp-tender peppers after the recommended baking time. And, it’s easier!
What do you recommend serving alongside stuffed peppers as a side dish or accompaniment?
A steamed or roasted vegetable is always a good choice, as is a fresh salad or dinner roll or piece of crusty bread. You can also serve a charcuterie as a starter or for a lighter meal, serve stuffed pepppers as-is.
Can this meal be made lower in carbohydrate?
Definitely! Use quinoa or cauliflower rice in lieu of cooked rice.
- This meal is naturally gluten-free and easily made dairy-free by omiting the cheese
- Offering nearly 7 grams of fiber per serving, this peppers recipe is high-fiber
- With over 31 grams of protein, this meal is rich in protein and offers great staying power
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 5 bell peppers, tops cut off
- 3 (8 oz) cans low-sodium tomato sauce
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb ground chicken breast
- 1 (8.8 oz) pouch microwave instant brown rice
- 2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat.
- Once hot, add the onion. Dice the tops to the bell peppers and add to the skillet; cook for 2-3 minutes or until softened, stirring often.
- Pour 1 can tomato sauce (1 cup) into the bottom of a large casserole dish. Remove the seeds and ribs from the bell peppers and place whole peppers, cut side up in the tomato sauce.
- To the skillet, add the pepper, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, and garlic; stir and cook until garlic is fragrant. Add the ground chicken and cook for 5-7 minutes, breaking up with a wooden spoon into a crumble as the meat cooks until no longer pink and nearly cooked through.
- Meanwhile, microwave the minute rice for 90 seconds or according to package directions. Add to the skillet, along with the last 2 cans (cups) of tomato sauce.
- Simmer for 8-10 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Scoop the mixture into each bell pepper. Cover the casserole dish with foil.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes. Remove from oven, remove foil, and top with cheese. Broil for 2-4 minutes or until bubbly and browned. Serve hot.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1 stuffed pepper
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 397Total Fat: 10.0gSaturated Fat: 5.0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5.0gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 781mgCarbohydrates: 50.0gFiber: 6.8gSugar: 9.8gProtein: 31.2g
Love all sorts of stuffed pepper and stuffed pepper-inspired foods? TA-DA!
- Tex-Mex Cheesy Stuffed Peppers
- Greek-Style Stuffed Peppers
- Chorizo-Stuffed Bell Peppers
- Stuffed Pepper Soup
- Cheesy Chicken and Corn-Stuffed Chiles
- Bolognese-Stuffed Peppers