I can’t emphasize this enough – These Healthy Southwestern Style Stuffed Bell Peppers are so easy and delicious that you would be out of your mind to not make them! My lovely sister-in-law was recently telling me about the stuffed bell peppers she prepares for her household and it caused a flood of memories to come rushing back to me. You see, my mother used to make a version of stuffed bell peppers all the time when I was a kid. Unfortunately, my childhood taste buds were not nearly as sophisticated as they are now and I absolutely hated stuffed bell pepper night growing up. (Mom, please know this is strictly a reflection on my picky eating habits as a kid and not your incredible culinary skills!!!) Hearing about my sister in law’s beloved peppers made me want to try this much maligned meal of my childhood past.
While planning the recipe for these stuffed peppers, I knew I wanted them to be as healthy as possible, but also feel like a decadent treat. For the healthy part, I used ground turkey, brown rice, black beans, and fresh corn. Because I am a cheese addict, I added in some shredded cheddar to the filling (not too much though!) and made a topping of cheese and crushed tortilla chips for some added texture – hence the decadent part. These peppers came out so flavorful that I want to go back in time and slap some sense into my childhood self for ignoring the deliciousness of stuffed bell peppers!!
Does anyone else have a meal they hated as a kid, but now love as an adult? You better believe that I am going back through my childhood mealtime memories to discover what else I have been missing. In all seriousness though, you should check out this recipe. I can assure you that this will be in our regular dinner rotation moving forward.
Healthy Southwestern Style Stuffed Bell Peppers
Ingredients for Filling:
½ medium onion, diced (approximately ½ cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (Optional)
(1) 10 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 ear of corn, kernels cut off and cob discarded
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup brown rice, cooked according to package instructions (1/2 cup measurement is prior to cooking)
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
6 bell peppers, cut and hollowed (I used a variety of colors, but feel free to use your favorites)
Ingredients for Topping:
¼ cup grated cheddar cheese
¼ cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
A handful of tortilla chips, crushed
Garnish: 1 tablespoon chopped green onion
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Over medium heat, brown your ground turkey in a deep 12” nonstick skillet. Drain off any fat and discard. Add the onion, garlic and jalapeno (if using) and cook until tender, stirring occasionally(approximately 5 minutes). Add the corn kernels and cook one minute. Pour in the diced tomatoes with green chilies and the black beans. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle the spices over the top of the filling and stir well. Dump in the brown rice and ½ cup grated cheddar cheese and mix well to thoroughly incorporate all of the flavors. Remove skillet from heat.
Place your hollowed out bell peppers in a baking dish with the opening facing up. (My peppers were mostly on the tall skinny side vs. the squat, fat side so I was able to fit them all into a 9” x 9” glass baking dish, but use the size that best fits your peppers.) Using a spoon, scoop the filling into the hollows of the prepared bell peppers, making sure to divide the mixture evenly between them.
Note: Depending on the size of your peppers, you may have some leftover filling. I can tell you from experience that it is delicious as a “dip” scooped up with tortilla chips!
Once the peppers are filled, place the baking dish in your preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes, or until the peppers are tender. Briefly remove the baking dish and top the cooked peppers with the remaining cheddar and the ¼ cup grated Jack cheese. Pat the crushed tortilla chips on top of the grated cheeses, making sure to divide it evenly between the peppers.
Return the baking dish to the oven and cook until the cheese melts and the chips start to brown (approximately 5-6 minutes). Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving so you don’t blister the roof of your mouth as you dive head first into this new-found favorite!