The wide variety of peppers, including sweet bells and fiery jalapenos, offer a delectable range of flavor, heat and culinary versatility. Bell peppers can become tender, colorful bowls for ground meat or rice stuffings, sweet peppers are the perfect vehicle for a thick shrimp dip, and jalapenos have an affinity for cheesy fillings. Though stuffed peppers are quick and easy to prepare, they exude an impressive chef-caliber flair. Visit your local farmers’ market and stock up on fresh-picked peppers of all kinds, then give these simple stuffed pepper recipes a try.
Quinoa Chickpea Stuffed Bell Peppers
Available in gorgeous bright hues, bell peppers are most commonly stuffed with a Mexican-style ground beef filling. This vegetarian stuffed bell pepper rendition is plump with a Mediterranean-inspired quinoa chickpea combination.
3/4 cup black quinoa, cooked according to package directions
4 bell peppers, preferably orange, yellow, or red
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed, drained
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. As you are cooking the quinoa, set a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Slice the tops of the peppers off and remove seeds. Place peppers in the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain cut side down on paper towels.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium skillet. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and cook, stirring often for 1 minute. Stir in mint, cilantro, oregano and chickpeas, cooking until heated through. Remove from heat and stir in feta and cooked quinoa.
3. Set peppers cut side up in a 9-inch square baking dish. Fill peppers with quinoa mixture. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm.
Shrimp-Stuffed Sweet Peppers
Sweet peppers, in their beautiful array of warm, lively colors, become eye-catching appetizers when stuffed with a flavorful shrimp and goat cheese filling. Serve peppers on a platter garnished with sprigs of flat-leaf parsley and fresh lemon slices.
2 cups vegetable broth
12 sweet peppers in a range of colors (each 2 to 3 inches long)
10 medium-sized cooked shrimp
4 ounces goat cheese, softened at room temperature
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons capers, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and grease a 13×9-inch baking dish.
2. Bring broth to a boil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Slice off the stem and very top of each pepper and remove the seeds. Place peppers in broth and reduce heat to a vigorous simmer. Cook peppers for 5 minutes, flip and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Peppers should be just tender, still retaining a crisp shape. Transfer to paper towels and drain cut-side down.
2. In a food processor, combine shrimp, goat cheese, lemon zest, parsley and capers. Pulse a few times to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Pulse a few more times.
3. Stuff each pepper with shrimp mixture and transfer to the prepared baking dish. If serving right away, place baking dish in oven and bake for 10 minutes or until shrimp mixture is heated through. If serving later, place baking dish in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
Stuffed Jalapenos on the Grill
Grilling jalapenos caramelizes their tender skin while bringing out their natural sweetness, a nice counter to their distinctive heat. Stuffing them with a honey laced cream cheese and bacon combination makes them addictive bites of balanced flavor.
12 large red or green jalapenos
8 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature
4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp, crumbled
2 tablespoons honey
1. Heat grill to medium high.
2. Slice jalapenos in half length-wise and remove seeds and membranes. Set aside.
3. Combine cream cheese, bacon and honey in a food processor and blend until smooth. Pipe or spoon cream cheese mixture into jalapeno half.
4. Set jalapenos on a grill basket and place on the grill, cheese side up. Cook, covered, for 15 minutes or until peppers are tender and cheese is hot. Serve warm.