Here is a very easy stuffed peppers recipe that you can enjoy as a main dish, as a soup, or both. These stuffed peppers are on the healthier side – there is no cheese in them unlike in many other stuffed pepper recipes. Instead, they are loaded with veggies and herbs, perfectly balancing carbs, fat and proteins and providing a delicious, healthy, yet satisfying meal. Use quinoa to substitute heavier, starchier rice and you will have a gluten-free super meal. Pork or beef can be substituted for lean chicken or turkey meat without sacrificing much of the taste.
Another great thing about this dish is that you can make either a simplified version, or a more complex version for added flavors and a vitamin boost.
For the very basic version of the easy stuffed peppers mix minced meat, rice, salt and pepper, stuff bell peppers and boil them in water/beef broth mix for about an hour. That’s it! It doesn’t get any easier than that. Simple, tasty and relatively healthy. Make it even healthier by using quinoa in place of rice, and lean poultry meat in place of pork and beef.
The slightly more complex version makes use of stewed onions, carrots, garlic and tomatoes. These vegetables add complex flavors to the dish, as well as a healthy load of vitamins. Add a potato and cabbage towards the end and you will have a nice soup to complement your stuffed peppers. You can get away with just the simple version of the recipe, your family will be asking for seconds, no doubt about that, but that little extra effort to make stewed veggies is definitely worth it.
Now, you may wonder if you really need to soak rice or quinoa before stuffing into peppers, as the recipe suggests. No, you don’t need to do that. What you absolutely must not do is use cooked rice. The stuffing will turn into mush by the time the meat and peppers are done cooking. Soaking makes the rice absorb water and swell. This is good because rice swelling inside the pepper will sometime cause it to burst. If presentation is not an issue, you may choose not to waste your time pre-soaking the rice (or quinoa). It will get cooked properly, if that’s what you are worried about, but may cause one or two peppers to burst here and there.
Serve with fresh greens such as dill, Italian parsley and green onions. You may also want to add a tablespoon of sour cream for a creamier, smoother texture of the stuffing. I love sour cream on my stuffed peppers. I know, it doesn’t make them any healthier, but it tastes amazingly good.
- 4 large bell peppers, cored and seeded
- 3 lbs ground meat (50/50 beef and pork, or 100% beef, or 100% chicken or turkey)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 large boiling potato, cubed (0.75 - 1 inch)
- 1 carrot, shredded
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large tomato, peeled and diced
- 1-1/2 cups cabbage, shredded
- ½ cup rice, pre-soaked in warm water for about 30 minutes (substitute for quinoa for a gluten-free version - requires about 15 minute soaking)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1-1/2 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh dill, parsley and green onions of garnish
- 2 cups beef broth
- Soak rice or quinoa in warm water. Rice will need about 30 minutes. Longer is not a problem. Quinoa requires less soaking time, about 15 minutes.
- While rice or quinoa is soaking, prepare all your vegetables.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add diced onions an cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until lightly golden brown. Add shredded carrots and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Add pressed garlic with diced tomatoes and simmer uncovered over medium-high heat for additional 7 minutes, until tomatoes become soft and mushy.
- Mix ground meat with pre-soaked rice or quinoa, salt and pepper. Stuff bell peppers tightly, while making sure they don't split apart. Prick the opposite end of each pepper with a fork, this will ensure even cooking throughout.
- Place stuffed peppers in a large pot, add beef broth, then water. Water level should be about 2 inches above the peppers. Bring to boil, then lower the temperature to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add cooked vegetables and continue simmering for another 15 minutes. At this point add potatoes and continue simmering for another 10 minutes. Add cabbage and simmer for 5 minutes. Done!
- Serve hot, garnished with fresh dill, parsley and green onions.