I recently discovered that I actually like bell peppers. They were one of those foods that I remember disliking as a kid, especially the green ones, and I would pick them out or eat around them if I had to. Then recently while on the hunt for low sodium recipes, we came across a chicken dish that called for peppers and I decided to give these veggies a second chance.
I found out quickly that not all bell peppers are the same, and I greatly prefer the orange/yellow/red ones to the green. We’ve included colorful bell peppers 3-4 times a week lately in our cooking, and can’t get enough of them. I feel like now that my eyes and taste buds have been opened and reintroduced to this gem that I should try them in a wide variety of ways except stir fried, (which is how we typically have them) and so we decided to try our hand at stuffed bell peppers to give peppers a chance as the main course instead of just a side dish.
For some reason, ricotta and spinach seemed like a perfect filling in our peppers, but I also wanted some protein so we opted for a little lean ground turkey. Without really having a “recipe” we just sort of threw it all together and LOVED the results! Here’s what we did:
bell peppers – we used 1 green, 1 orange, and 1 yellow
small tub of ricotta cheese
1/2 lb of lean 93/7 ground turkey
1/2 package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed & drained
While the ground turkey was cooking thoroughly in a pan on medium heat, we preheated the oven to 375 F. Next we sliced the peppers in half from top to bottom and cleaned out the stem and seeds to make little pepper “boats” for our stuffing. In a mixing bowl, I combined the ricotta, spinach, and freshly cooked ground turkey. I added a little Mrs. Dash, pepper, and basil to the mixture while Lucas lightly brushed the outsides of each pepper boat with olive oil. We filled each pepper with the stuffing mixture and placed them in the bottom of a shallow, foil lined baking dish. Just before we threw them into the oven, we sprinkled each stuffed pepper boat with a little parmesan cheese. 30 minutes at 375 F seemed perfect; the smell will make your mouth water.
Like I said, we loved the result – per usual, we found that we preferred the yellow and orange peppers to the green; it seemed like the flavor cooked right out of the green peppers, but the orange and yellow ones were delicious. Though baked for 30 minutes, the peppers still had just enough “crunch” to keep them from being too soggy. It was just right. In hindsight, we could’ve used a little bit more spices; while we try to avoid salt, a dash seasoned salt on mine was good, but I would definitely season the stuffing mixture a bit more than I did for next time. Experiment with some of your favorite seasonings to give the mixture more flavor.
Speaking of next time, I think we’ll try some smoked sausage as a protein, too. When I mentioned our peppers at work, one of my co-workers said she usually puts some kind of rice as the base of her pepper stuffing. See, the possibilities are endless! Maybe we’ll have to try rice sometime, too. A sausage and rice stuffing with the right spices could be sort of like a jambalaya filling. I look forward to having bell peppers be the star of the meal more often in a wide variety of ways. :)