How did I get my husband to eat one and a half whole red bell peppers without even thinking twice?
By stuffing them with delicious, fun ingredients of course!
I love stuffing peppers – they are sturdy and a great vehicle for other tasty ingredients. It’s also a great way to sneak a bunch of veggies and healthy lean protein into your diet in a new and interesting way.
When making stuffed peppers, it’s really important not to overcook the peppers – otherwise you end up with a limp, soggy base and an unappetizing dish. But when cooked correctly, stuffed peppers are divine.
The obvious choice of stuffing ingredients is in the Mexican / Spanish cuisine: beans, veggies, corn, cheese, spices like cumin, cayenne, etc. After I came across this recipe from Fat Free Vegan, I thought I’d take a chance and throw in mushrooms as well.
Full disclaimer: I’m not a huge mushroom fan. And the husband thinks mushrooms are “squishy” and “weird.”
BUT – these mushrooms added a great meatiness to the dish that made it even more hearty and satisfying, and we both loved it!
- 1 medium red onion, chopped fine
- 16 oz diced crimini mushrooms
- 1-2 jalapeño peppers, minced (obviously if you don’t like things too spicy, use less jalapeno!)
- 1 16-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed well
- 1 1/2 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
- 1 15-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 Tbsp chili powder (use less if you don’t like too much spice)
- 1 tsp cumin
- Optional: 1 tsp oregano
- Optional: 1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 red bell peppers, sliced in half vertically
- 8 Tbsp shredded cheddar cheese
- 5 green onions, thinly sliced
Step 1: Preheat oven to 400F. Heat a large non-stick skillet or saucepan. Add 1 tsp olive oil and the onion. Cook, stirring often until it softens, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and jalapeno and continue to cook until mushrooms soften.
Step 2: Add black beans, corn, tomatoes, and spices. Cook for a few more minutes to allow most of the tomato liquid to cook off.
Step 3: Meanwhile, prepare the peppers by cutting them in half through the stem end (vertically), removing the seeds and membranes, and rinsing the insides to make sure all the seeds are out. Spray a baking sheet big enough for the peppers with cooking spray.
Step 4: Fill each pepper half with the chili and place it on the baking sheet.
I love how these peppers looked right before they went into the oven – so fresh and vibrant!
Step 5: Bake until peppers are tender, about 40 minutes. When they’re done, they’ll look like this:
Step 6: Top the peppers with 1 Tbsp cheese each, and pop them back into the oven. Bake until the cheese has melted – only a few minutes.
Step 7: Sprinkle each pepper with sliced green onions and serve hot.
The nutritional stats on these peppers is AWESOME. Two HUGE pepper halves will have about 250-300 calories (depending on how much filling and cheese you use), 12g fiber and 11g protein. The husband ate his with salsa, I ate mine straight out of the oven. Note: you can make this vegan by just eliminating the cheese, and it’s already gluten-free!
You can even make extra filling and use it later in the week for other Mexican meals like a filling for burritos, tacos, or even as a topping for healthy nachos.
They taste so amazingly good, you won’t even realize that they are so good for you! It’s like a party in your mouth.