I have a long-ago memory of the first time I tried a stuffed bell pepper; a friend of my mother’s was Eastern European, and along with cabbage rolls and perogies, these bell peppers were one of her specialties. While I will never be able to fully replicate that flavour of that amazing, long-ago meal, it sure doesn’t hurt to try.
This recipe is very versatile and economical, especially when bell peppers are in season, The protein can be substituted with ground pork, turkey or chicken, or for the vegetarian version try TVP (my favourite) or crumbled tofu, if that’s the cut of your jib; just recently I made a double-batch of this recipe, one with ground beef, and one with TVP burger crumbles, and they were both amazing (and there was plenty of stuffed pepper mixture leftover the next day to make some kick-ass tacos😊) Regardless of whatever land-based protein you use, these stuffed peppers are incredibly flavourful and delicious, and I can’t recommend enough that you try this recipe soon.
Stuffed Bell Peppers
Can be made vegetarian/vegan, dairy-free, and/or gluten-free
Yield: 4-5 servings | PREP: 30 mins | BAKE: 40-45 mins
- 4-5 medium fresh, whole green, red, orange, or yellow peppers* in good condition, with no blemishes
- 2 tbsp/30mL extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups lean ground beef
- ½ cooking onion, diced finely
- 1 stalk celery, diced finely
- ½ bell pepper (any colour), diced finely
- 1 clove garlic, minced finely
- 1 tsp/5mL dried thyme
- 1 tbsp/15g tomato paste
- ¼ cup/125mL water
- 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tsp/5g Kosher salt
- 1 tsp/5g freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ tsp/2g red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 cups/500g frozen vegetables (recommended: peas, corn, carrots, beans, cauliflower or broccoli florets), thawed and cut down to diced size if necessary
- ½ cup/120g brown, white or long-grain and wild rice, pre-cooked (you can substitute broth for the water if preferred)
- A few handfuls of shredded cheddar or Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F/180 °C, and ensure rack is placed in middle of oven.
- Lightly oil a high-sided heat-proof baking dish or Dutch oven large enough to hold 4 peppers standing upright but nestled together, and high enough to cover with a lid or foil.
- Cut off tops of peppers, reserve. Remove seeds and membranes from peppers and place bottom-side down in oiled baking dish; set dish aside.
- Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add ground beef, onion, celery, minced garlic and thyme; cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Add tomato paste and water to mixture and combine well.
- Add soy or tamari, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (if using) and mix well. Cook until heated through and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
- Add vegetables and cooked rice and mix well to combine; heat through for a few minutes, taste for seasoning, then spoon into prepared peppers. Place tops (with or without stems still attached) on each whole, upright pepper. Note: depending on the size of peppers you are using, you may have enough filling left over to fill an extra pepper or two.
- Bake for 40-45 min or until peppers are cooked through; you can check by using a sharp knife to pierce the side of peppers; if it slides through smoothly then remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before sprinkling with (optional) cheese and serving hot.
*Green stuffed peppers will taste less sweet than other coloured peppers.
Note: you can extend this recipe to feed more people or use as a side dish: slice the peppers vertically in half through the stem but leave the stems intact; remove all seeds and membranes and fill each pepper half as one serving. This manner of prep also works well with oddly-shaped peppers that won’t stand up by themselves.
For an appetizer-style stuffed pepper, you can use mini peppers and stuff them as described above. Serve with drizzles of thinned sour cream and sprinkles of parsley for presentation.