With Farmers’ Markets and backyard gardens in full growth all around the country, it’s becoming easier (and less expensive) to make those healthy food choices. Ayurveda suggests eating with the season since our bodies often reflect what’s happening in nature. Spring is a time of cleansing and renewal.
This stuffed pepper recipe is a great way to experience the flavors of the season and have a warm meal. I know my family loves to eat fresh, in-season veggies whether they are picked right from our backyard or purchased at our local morning markets. This year we had very late freezes here in West Virginia so we had a very late start to the growing season. Never fear, we are here with a healthy recipe that can be altered to fit MANY diets and preferences, as well as make enough for a second meal with a few added ingredients!
**DISCLAIMER** I do not typically measure when I cook. I strongly advise you to mindfully follow your own preferences, eyes, and sense of smell when adding seasonings and other ingredients to fit your family’s taste buds. My recipes often vary slightly from one preparation to another, depending on my moods.
- Near East Quinoa & Rice Blend OR Red Beans and Rice mix (I used Roasted Red Pepper and Basil)
**Follow directions on box to prepare. Prep other ingredients while quinoa blend cooks.
- 4-6 bell peppers (you can use red, green, or yellow—I use green since red are too sweet for me)
- 1 small zucchini, diced (you can use less if you like)
- 1 small yellow squash, diced
- 1 15 oz can of dark red kidney beans
- 1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes (or if you have fresh, use one!)
- ½ of 24 oz jar of tomato and basil sauce (or your preferred flavor)
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- ½ – 3/4 c onion (or half an onion, depending on the size of onion), diced
- A handful of cheese cubes: cheddar, Colby jack, or I used ½ block cubed Daiya dairy-free cheddar cheese
- ¼ to ½ tsp of dried basil OR 4-5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- ½ tsp oregano (or more) **fresh always tastes best if you have it
- ¼ tsp thyme
OR if seasonings are in low supply, use a healthy amount (2Tbsp or so) of Italian Seasoning Salt or blend
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Follow directions on box for rice. Prepare other ingredients while this cooks.
- Everything can go in raw so it doesn’t overcook, preserving the vital energy that fresh food provides; or you can choose to sauté all the veggies in olive oil: onion, zucchini, squash, & garlic.
- Use a large mixing bowl and just toss in ingredients as you prep them.
- When rice is finished, add it to all other ingredients and stir very well.
- Wash and cut tops off the peppers, hollowing out any excess “meat” and rinsing out seeds.
- Place peppers in a round or square baking dish that allows them to stand close together and support each other (teamwork, haha).
- Fill each pepper with your prepared stuffing.
- Top with additional Parmesan or Veggie cheese sprinkles, if you’d like.
- Cover the pepper pan with foil. I usually kind of tent it if I can so foil doesn’t touch tops of peppers.
- Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until heated through.
- Serve & enjoy!
Makes up to 8 peppers. I usually make 4 and have lots of leftover filling for another recipe.
Printable Directions for Stuffed Peppers Recipe
*Add ground meat of your choice if you have a meat-lovin’ family. In that case, cook meat thoroughly before adding to mix.
*Add meatless crumbles if you are vegetarian, like extra protein, or if you are trying to fool a meat-lover. Also, heat this through with a little olive oil in a pan (with some onions and garlic) before adding to mixture.
*Picky kid option: Serve this filling (maybe use meatless crumbles) on a bun or pita as a “sloppy joe” variety for those who would be deterred by the actual pepper. In that case, dice up the pepper and cook it all together in a pan!
*Leftovers to the Rescue: Add a little chopped, fresh cilantro to the filling and any other spices of your choice, and use as a burrito filling for lunch or dinner the next day! Throw in some salsa, guacamole, black beans, or sour cream (there are vegan options) and VOILA!
We hope you try and enjoy this recipe, and even explore making it your own! Savor the flavors of this beautiful season by eating fresh foods that nourish your body and soul. Get the kids involved by letting them shop for or pick the veggies, older ones can help chop or cook rice, and younger ones can stir and stuff peppers! Or just spend this time being present while you prepare the meal and let the kids play in the background (or do yoga with our new DVD). Whatever you choose, this meal is sure to be a family affair.