NEED A CLASSIC, NO-FAIL DINNER? STUFFED PEPPERS ARE IT

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of stuffed peppers here at Delish. Strong enough to hold their shape, bell peppers are large enough to hold a decent amount of filling while taking to a variety of flavors—they're the perfect vessel for countless combinations and ingredients. This versatile meal is not only simple to make, but feeds families big and small, making it a cheap & easy weeknight dinner legend. While I love to see all our experiments with countless variations, this classic, straight-forward recipe is hard to beat. Make it as-is using all my tips and tricks, then use it as a jumping-off point to get creative and make create your own dream stuffed peppers.

Yields: 6 servings

Prep Time: 20 mins

Total Time: 1 hour 30 mins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c.

    uncooked white or brown rice

  • 2 tbsp.

    extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

  • 1

    medium yellow onion, chopped

  • 3

    cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 2 tbsp.

    tomato paste

  • 1 lb.

    ground beef

  • 1

    (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes

  • 1 1/2 tsp.

    dried oregano

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 6

    bell peppers, tops and cores removed

  • 1 c.

    shredded Monterey jack

  • Chopped fresh parsley, for serving

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. In a small saucepan, prepare rice according to package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add ground beef and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Drain excess fat.
  3. Stir in rice and diced tomatoes; season with oregano, salt, and pepper. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid has reduced slightly, about 5 minutes.
  4. Arrange peppers cut side up in a 13"x9" baking dish and drizzle with oil. Spoon beef mixture into each pepper. Top with cheese, then cover baking dish with foil.
  5. Bake peppers until tender, about 35 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until cheese is bubbly, about 10 minutes more.
  6. Top with parsley before serving.

How to Make Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients

Cooked white or brown rice. Either works here, though you’ll definitely want to plan ahead if you’re cooking brown rice the same night as your peppers (it can take up to an hour to cook, whereas white usually takes less than 30 minutes). Not a rice cooking pro yet? Follow food editor Taylor Ann’s guides to cooking both brown and white rice, and you’ll be a master in no time.

Tomato paste. If you’re like me, every time you need tomato paste for a recipe, you open a can, use a few tablespoons, then pop the can back in the fridge to wait to be thrown away next time you do a fridge clean out. Relatable? You’ve got to try my new hack: whenever you open a can, spoon all the tomato paste from it onto a small sheet pan or plate, then freeze it. Once it’s frozen enough to not stick together, store them in an airtight container. Next time you need just one or two tablespoons, you can use your frozen back stock instead of opening a new can—just cook it for a little longer than you normally would!

Ground beef. I usually default to 85/15 (85 percent lean meat and 15 percent fat) or 90/10, but use whatever you like here.

Diced tomatoes. I love the convenience of canned tomatoes, but not all are created equal. My favorite brand is San Marzano because I find it to be the most consistent, but other brands will work. Look for ones that have short ingredient lists (just tomatoes, salt, citric acid, and water or tomato juice). I have on occasion been known to use fire-roasted or tomatoes with green chiles here, but I never want ones that contain any added sugar or additives.

Bell peppers. You can go with any colors here, but keep this in mind: standard red, yellow, and orange are usually a little sweeter than their green or purple counterparts, which lean towards grassier and slightly bitter. Any will work here, but I do recommend trying to buy ones that are similar in size, both height- and width-wise.

Monterey Jack cheese. This is my favorite cheese to use here because it’s a little buttery and nutty, but whatever cheese you like works—try cheddar for a sharper, more robust flavor, pepper Jack for a little kick, or even a Mexican blend for a little variety. Though I’m usually a bit proponent of shredding your own cheese, for this family-friendly meal, I’m okay with saying you can use the pre-shredded kind.

Parsley. This is my preferred garnish, but anything that adds a little pop of green will work here—chives, thyme, even scallions would be great.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Start by preheating your oven to 400°, and making your rice if you need to.

Personally, I like to get my peppers prepped and cut before making the filling so I don’t have to multitask too much. Here’s how I do it: I cut off the top (using a small paring knife to carve a circle around the stem, kind of like when carving a pumpkin), then I pull out the core and the seeds. I suggest turning the peppers upside down over the sink and tapping them to get the excess seeds out. You could even try rinsing the peppers out, if you need some extra help. If a few seeds stay in, don’t panic—it won’t mess up your dish.

Once your peppers are ready, get a large skillet and some oil heating over medium heat. Add your onions, garlic, and tomato paste in stages, letting each one cook a bit before adding the next. You might be tempted to just chuck in your tomato paste with your ground beef, but trust me—letting it cook on its own for a minute or two helps caramelize it and bring out some of its more complex flavors (AND helps get rid of any leftover taste from the can it came in).

Once your aromatics are softened and fragrant, add your ground beef. Cook it, breaking it up with your spoon, until it’s no longer pink (a little under is okay, because it’s going to get baked). Drain the excess oil if needed.

Stir in your cooked rice and diced tomatoes, then add your oregano, salt, and pepper. Taste for seasoning here, then let it cook down for a few minutes until the liquid is reduced a bit.

Then fill your peppers! I like to drizzle my empty peppers with a little oil to keep them nice and supple while baking and then do a little on top to guarantee a flavorful and tasty top, but it’s up to you. Once you’ve got your peppers filled, top them with cheese, then wrap your whole pan in foil and pop it in the oven.

Most of the baking will happen while the peppers are covered, but you do want to give them a little uncovered time in the oven to make sure that cheese gets nice and bubbly. 10 minutes should be enough, but feel free to let it go a little longer (especially if you’re using pre-shredded cheese that can take a bit longer to melt).

Garnish with a little green, then serve!

Full list of ingredients and directions can be found in the recipe above.

Stuffed Pepper Variations

Recipe Tips

Do you need to cook peppers before stuffing them? You can, but I prefer not to. The peppers are easier to fill when they’re still raw, and this way they still retain a little bit of texture after they’ve been baked. If you do cook them before stuffing, make sure not to over-bake them—you want them to be tender, but not mushy or soggy.

Make-Ahead & Storage

If you want to prep this a day ahead, cut and core your peppers, then store in an airtight container in the fridge. Prepare your filling as directed, then store it in a separate airtight container in the fridge. When you're ready to serve, simply fill and bake until tender. You can also assemble these through step 4, and then freeze the entire baking tray for up to three months. Hot tip: freeze them in the baking tray, then wrap them up individually—then you can cook just one or two peppers at a time, without having to make the whole tray.

When you’re ready to bake, you can either pull them out to defrost the night before and bake them for the regular time, or bake them from frozen, being mindful that they will take ~30 minutes longer to cook.

Made This?

Let me know how it went in the comments below!

2022-06-03T18:28:21Z dg43tfdfdgfd