Okay, so I may have gone a little overboard in planting ALLLL the bell pepper seedlings in our yard. Yes, we now have hundreds of bell peppers ready for harvest, but I’m waiting patiently for a bunch of them to turn red. They are more ripe and sweet and just taste better. Don’t get me wrong, I love the green and orange bell peppers, but it’s worth letting some of them go red. In the meantime, I’ve been whipping up some yummy bell pepper recipes (as well as chopping and freezing bell pepper so I have it ready to go in things like omelettes and on top of nachos)…. emmmm, nachos… Okay, I digress. Back to the reason for this post- stuffed bell peppers!
These little puppies were so easy to make and very yummy. Stuffed bell peppers make a great party food as they grill up nicely on the bar-b-que. I actually roasted these in the oven, but they can very easily be grilled outside or in a pan on top of the stove. The best part is you can make a ton of stuffed peppers ahead of time and freeze them, and then take out as many as you need and thaw them in the fridge for a few hours and then heat them up! I heated a few in the toaster oven which really saved us from having to turn on the hot oven during a mid-summer heat wave!
Let’s talk about the bell peppers and what delightfulness is inside! It’s basically a chicken cous cous dish… that’s it. Super simple! All you have to do is chop and prep the bell peppers. Heat up some cous cous. Grill the veggies and chicken in a pan. Dump in the cous cous, add the tomato sauce and boom, stuffing is ready. We are using organic everything these days, in our attempt to eat more healthy. And many of the veggies came straight from the garden. There is a difference in our veggies from the store bought veggies. Ours are definitely more “green.” They taste more green, more vivid. It’s hard to explain. If you buy veggies from a farmer’s market, you probably understand.
Growing bell pepper plants is not difficult at all. Simply scoop the seeds out of an organic (preferably red) bell pepper. Let them dry out on a paper towel. Then simply plant each seed in a little cup with drain holes and place the cups under a light or next to a well lit window. I’ve found that our plants love water, and they are pretty hardy. When the leaves droop, it means they need more water. That’s it. One trick that I love is to cut the top off the plant once it has 5-6 good leaves. This helps the stalk of the plant to strengthen up and encourages the plant to bush out to the sides more. Our plants are super strong because of this trick, and like I mentioned earlier, we are getting LOTS of bell peppers.
Bell peppers start out green, then turn bright orange and then go red. They really do have different flavors, so make sure to taste each and see what your preference is. I love the green flavor for my stuffed bells and Mexican dishes. The reds are my favorite and taste amazing in fresh salads.
This stuffed bell pepper recipe was something I threw together one night because I had some leftover tomato sauce. You can do many variations of stuffed bell peppers. Get creative with the ingredients in your kitchen and see what you come up with! For now, here’s our recipe:
Stuffed Bell Peppers with Cous Cous and Tomato Sauce
6-8 Bell Peppers
1 Small Yellow Onion
2 Cloves Garlic Minced
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Cooked Chicken Breasts Shredded
1 Cup Cous Cous
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Simmer Tomato Sauce on low while you prep the rest.
Chop the onion and mushrooms and one bell pepper (seeds removed) and heat in a pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Lightly dust with garlic powder. Allow the veggies to soften and then remove from heat when they brown lightly.
Heat one cup of cous cous in a sauce pan according to package.
Shred the cooked chicken breast and add it to the onions, mushrooms and bell peppers. Turn the chicken into the vegetables. Add the minced garlic and a bit of olive oil to the pan and simmer just to heat the garlic (don’t let it burn, just a minute is good).
Dump the cous cous into the pan with chicken and veggies. Then add tomato sauce slowly while stirring the entire dish. Allow this to simmer on low while you cut/seed and prep the bell peppers for stuffing.
Cut the bell peppers either top to bottom or in half. Clean out the skin on the inside and any seeds. Rinse them out. Set them in a pan and then dish the cous cous stuffing mixture into each bell pepper. Add water into the bottom of the pan, just to cover the bottom of the pan, about 1/2 a cup. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese. Return to the oven and bake uncovered until the cheese has melted and the peppers become tender, another 10-15 minutes.
*You could use sausage or ground turkey instead of shredded chicken. And add or delete any veggies you like! Freeze leftover stuffed peppers in a freezer safe container or bag. Take them out of the freezer a few hours and thaw in the fridge. Heat at 375 for about 10 minutes and check to make sure they are heated all the way through.