To get KB delivered to your inbox, click Subscribe at the bottom of this page
Folks all over the world love stuffed and filled foods. Just a few examples: chicken cordon bleu, ravioli, loaded baked potatoes, pierogies, jalapeno poppers, stuffed mushrooms, jelly donuts, braciole, and the list goes on and on and on.
There are lots of great stuffed dishes out there, but there’s one in particular that holds a special place in many hearts—the stuffed bell pepper. With summer in full swing and the pepper harvest sweet, cheap and plentiful, there’s no better time to make this crowd-pleasing dish.
Instead of the traditional ground beef filling, I choose to use a combination of bacon, onion, and mushrooms. Also, many stuffed pepper recipes call for the peppers to be baked in tomato sauce, but I wanted to keep it very southwestern in flavor, so I skipped the tomato sauce and used grated cheddar and breadcrumbs as my pepper topping. We served the peppers with a hot Italian sausage and some pretzel mustard on the side.
The Arborio rice called for in this recipe is an Italian short-grain rice that’s usually used in risotto. It’s firm, creamy, and chewy, which makes it an excellent option for fillings. You can find it at most grocery stores and supermarkets. Substitute any short-grain rice if you can’t find it.
Queso fresco is a Mexican-style soft un-aged crumbling cheese that adds a salty bite to the pepper filling. It’s great crumbled over salads, soups, tacos, enchiladas or bean dishes. If you can’t find it in your grocery store, look for it at your local Latino/Spanish market or substitute a mild feta.
The beauty of this recipe is that it can be altered to individual tastes. Want an Italian-style pepper instead of a Southwestern one? Use feta, Italian seasoning, basil and sweet paprika instead of the queso fresco and seasonings call for here. Top with Parmesan instead of cheddar, or the traditional tomato sauce. Or skip the meat altogether and make vegetarian peppers, or fill baby peppers instead of large ones and serve them as a fun one-bite appetizer at your next party. How this recipe turns out is all up to you.
Bacon and Onion Stuffed Peppers
If you want to use mini peppers to serve as an appetizer or side dish, simply fill the peppers and bake in cupcake pan for about 25 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly and peppers are soft. Lose the bacon and add more mushrooms for a vegetarian option. For a print copy of this recipe, click here.
1 Tbs. olive oil
½ c. Arborio rice
1½ c. chicken stock
3 slices of bacon
1 onion diced fine
4 bell peppers in a variety of colors, stems and seeds removed by cutting a hole around the stem of the pepper
6 oz. fresh white or cremini mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large tomato or a handful of cherry tomatoes, diced
1 serrano chile, minced
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
¼ c. queso fresco (Mexican crumbling cheese) or any other cheese or your choice
½ c. cheddar cheese, finely shredded
½ c. breadcrumbs
4 oz. salted butter, diced
¼ c. water
Cook rice and bacon. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Bring chicken stock to boil. Add rice, a tablespoon of olive and a pinch of salt. Stir, reduce heat to low and cover. Let cook for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through and soft. While rice cooks, fry bacon in skillet until crisp. Remove from pan to drain. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from the skillet and return to burner.
Make filling. In the same skillet, add 1 tsp olive oil then add mushrooms, onions, a pinch of salt and pepper, and sweat over medium heat until the veggies are soft and the onions are translucent, 7-10 minutes. Add tomatoes, sauté 3-4 minutes more. Add garlic and Serrano chile, sauté 1 minute. Add cumin, paprika, oregano, mix well. Stir in rice, mixing well. Crumble in bacon & cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Fill and bake peppers. Divide rice mixture and use a spoon to pack it into peppers. Top each pepper with cheddar and breadcrumbs. Dot with butter. Stand peppers in baking dish. Pour ¼ cup water in bottom of pepper dish. Cover with tin foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and cook for 25-30 minutes more, or until peppers are beginning to blacken in spots and cheese is brown and bubbling.
* Note: If your peppers aren’t browning very well, broil them for 3-5 minutes to get that roasted look.