Vegetarian stuffed peppers are often stuffed with rice, and I’ve made them that way many times. However, I’ve switched to using MorningStar Farms (MSF) Burger Crumbles – a low-fat, pre-cooked substitute for ground beef.
To bind the meatloaf-style mixture together, you can use egg or cheese. Egg makes it taste more like meat, but only slightly so because the seasonings are the real kicker in this comforting dish.
I use grated mozzarella cheese as a binder, and it works well with a low-fat version (white cheeses are generally lower fat than are yellow cheeses). We buy grated Mozzarella in a large bag and keep all or most of it in the freezer. (You can keep a small amount in a baggie in the fridge, but air in the bag and warmer temps can make it spoil if you leave it in the fridge too long.) We used to use a blend of yellow and white cheese, but including cheddar within the mixture increases calories per serving.
Our favorite recipe is very flexible both in quantity and ingredients. While many people lean toward Italian seasonings, we prefer Mexican.
STUFFED PEPPER RECIPE
about 30 min. prep, from start to cleanup
- 3-4 bell peppers (red are best, but any color will work)
- 1 onion, chopped
- several ribs of celery, depending upon how much you like celery, sliced & diced
- 1 bag MSF recipe crumbles
- grated mozz. cheese – 3/4 to 2 cups, depending upon your calorie-consciousness
- 1-2 cans S&W Mexican Style Stewed tomatoes (hold back 1 can for sauce)
Also you’ll need:
- glass or ceramic baking dish (3-4″ for each pepper: 2 peppers halved requires an 8″ dish; you can squeeze 4 halves into a 7 or 8 X 12)
- aluminum foil
- a bit of grated cheddar (optional — just kidding!)
Mix ingredients (just the top set of bullets, please) together in a large bowl. You don’t have to put tomatoes in the mixture, since they will be poured over top, but putting a can in the mixture lowers the calorie count per serving (cut large pieces). The crumbles and cheese can be mixed in frozen; just break apart lumps with a fork or a hammer.
Spray the baking dish lightly with non-stick spray.
Cut the stemmed tops off the peppers to stuff them whole, putting their caps back on (or not)…OR…halve the peppers. We usually halve them lengthwise, so one pepper makes two servings–and they bake faster. Also, if you halve them lengthwise, you don’t have to buy peppers with flat bottoms to stand on!
Stuff the peppers by pressing the mixture into each pepper tightly and fit them like puzzle pieces into the dish. I usually start the stuffing with a spoon, but as the crevices fill, I finish off my pressing by hand. The reason measurements don’t have to be precise depending upon how many peppers you’re stuffing is that you fill the peppers based upon how much mixture you have – either mounding it up high or just filling! (Extra mixture can be frozen for next time.)
Pour a can of S&W Mexican Style Stewed Tomatoes over top, making sure the liquid covers the bottom of the dish.
Tear off a l-o-n-g sheet of aluminum foil (half again the length of your dish). Form it into a tent so that it does not touch the food. Crimp it to the handles on the dish. (Tomatoes will ‘eat’ aluminum foil; then you’ll ‘eat’ the aluminum in your food. Tremendously dangerous.)
Bake at 350 for 90-120 minutes. At our altitude, 4300 ft. above sea level, we bake for at least two hours. This dish is best baked a longer time at a lower temperature, than rushed by turning the oven up. (Even 300 degrees is nice.) If you need to shorten the baking time, parboil the peppers. You can do that in the microwave by placing them in a covered dish (don’t use plastic) with just the water remaining on them after you’ve rinsed them inside and out. Nuke on high for 90 second to 2 minutes. The peppers should show slight softening.
Test doneness of the completed casserole by piercing a pepper wall with a fork. We like ours completely soft, but you may prefer more crunch. For a great finish, just before serving, remove the foil and sprinkle a bit of grated cheddar cheese on top. Return to the oven to melt (or brown, if you prefer) the cheese.
This is one of our favorite dishes to serve non-vegetarians. They never ask what it’s made of; though, most know I’m a vegetarian. My mother-in-law always asked prior to visiting us if they could expect to have some of my famous stuffed peppers.
We sometimes fix a side salad to go with it, but when it’s just us, we may not. I love peas along side.
What’s great about this dish:
1. It’s delicious
2.It’s nourishing comfort food
3. It’s high-protein, low carbohydrate
4. It keeps well in the fridge, tastes good as leftovers and can be frozen
5. It’s all about “assembling,” not “cooking”
6. You can put this together at 4:00, and have a steaming, savory dinner almost by magic at 6:00 or 6:30 (depending upon altitude)
7. Can be baked and reheated! Yay!