We’re always looking for easy and satisfying weeknight meal ideas, but some of our usuals are a little heavy. That’s why we turn to the pros. Giada De Laurentiis, author of Eat Better, Feel Better, always seems to have a few freshened-up comfort food recipes up her sleeve, and one in particular recently caught our eye. It’s her recipe for stuffed peppers, but these aren’t the soggy bell peppers stuffed with a leaden boulder of dry ground beef that you might be remembering from your childhood. Instead, De Laurentiis lightens things up with a few healthy swaps, and she adds some extra veggies to the mix for good measure.
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Right off the bat, this is different than the dish we remember from childhood. That’s because De Laurentiis stuffs not just bell peppers, but also zucchini. And, instead of sticking to boring green bell peppers, she says you can switch it up, opting for yellow, orange, or red bell peppers – the choice is up to you. Between the rainbow of peppers and the zucchini, everyone in the family can choose the veggie vessel they like best.
De Laurentiis also freshens up the recipe by using ground turkey in the filling instead of ground beef. And there are no seasoning packets or canned condensed soups here. Instead, she seasons the ground turkey with a blend of onion, parsley, ketchup, garlic, salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan, then mixes in some eggs and breadcrumbs to help the mixture stay moist and hold together.
The key to making sure the filling mixture doesn’t become a dense, hard ball of meat is mixing it just until the ingredients are combined. It might still be a little lumpy, but that’s okay – what you don’t want is a smooth, sticky paste.
Stuff your hollowed out peppers and zucchini boats with the turkey filling, then cover with marinara sauce and bake until tender, about 45 minutes. You can top them with a little cheese for the last 10 minutes of baking if you’d like – mozzarella, Parmesan, or even feta would be delicious.
Dinner’s ready! You’ve got a meal with all of the hearty comfort of the traditional favorite, but with a lighter, more vibrant flavor thanks to the use of extra veggies and swapping beef for turkey. The leftovers are great, too – you can even chop them up to make sloppy joes or burritos, or toss with pasta and more marinara sauce for another cozy Italian-inspired meal.
Before you go, check out our gallery below:
Watch: How to Make Giada De Laurentiis’ Stuffed Lasagna Rolls