Packed with vitamins C, A and E, bell peppers make a great vessel for a savory filling and satisfying dinner. Here’s my updated recipe for stuffed bell peppers with lean ground turkey, nutrition-packed quinoa and tomatoes. I’ve added sweet dried currants, warming spices, plus a little feta cheese for some tang. You can even make the stuffing ahead of time to save time. Notes for dietary options are below.
Classic recipes for stuffed peppers often use green bell peppers, ground beef and rice. For an updated version, I’ve made a few changes.
Choosing Ground Turkey
First, I prefer mild tasting, lean ground turkey instead of beef. It’s a good choice for a healthy animal protein source. When you shop for ground turkey, be sure to read the label or talk with the butcher. Ground turkey can have a big range in terms of fat content. It’s not automatically lower in fat than beef, as you might think. If you can get 10% lean ground turkey, it’s a good choice. If you prefer beef over turkey, this recipe works great with beef too. Just choose lean beef.
Quinoa – the Power Grain
Instead of rice, I use quinoa. Quinoa is light, fluffy, and packed with protein and fiber. It’s also considered a complete protein, which means it provides all of the essential amino acids our bodies need. It’s a great swap for rice in this recipe.
Choosing Bell Peppers
For the bell peppers, choose red or orange. Brighter colored peppers have more nutrition in them and a sweeter taste. Pick through what’s available and choose fat, round peppers if you can. If all that’s at hand is long and narrow, don’t worry; the recipe will still work just fine. Just follow my notes.
Choose peppers that are smooth-skinned (not wrinkled), richly colored, and heavy for their size. On shape – if the peppers are short, squatty and round, trim off the top and fill them whole. If they are long and narrow, do not cut off the top; cut them in half stem to end all of the way through for filling. Trim out the ribs and seeds from peppers with your fingers and a sharp paring knife until they are clean inside. After sauteing the filling, stuff your peppers and bake according to my directions below.
For a vegetarian option, eliminate the turkey and add your favorite bean. Black beans, Cannellini beans, kidney beans or pinto beans all work well. Use canned beans to save time. Rinse and drain them first. I use Eden Organics because they use BPA-free cans. For a vegan or dairy-free option, skip the feta cheese.
Stuffed bell peppers are a healthy, tasty and nutritious main dish. Add a tossed green salad and you are set.
Turkey and Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers
- 3/4 cup (140 grams) uncooked quinoa (red, white or tri-color blend)
- 4 large bell peppers, preferably red or orange
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup (133 grams) chopped onion
- 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 12 ounces (340 grams) lean ground turkey
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger (I use the organic jarred puree)
- a few good pinches of kosher or sea salt
- a small pinch of ground black pepper
- 1-14 ounce (411 grams) can of petite diced tomatoes (not drained)
- 2 tablespoons (20 grams) dried currants
- 4 ounces (113 grams) feta cheese, crumbled or cubed very small
- 1/4 cup (13 grams) finely chopped parsley
- Start by cooking your quinoa. For 3/4 of a cup (140 grams) dry quinoa, it will take 1 1/2 cups (355 ml) of water. Be sure to rinse quinoa well under cold running water if it is not pre-rinsed. Bring it to a boil, then cover and turn heat down to low. Cook 18 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to finish by steaming 5-10 minutes more. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
- Prepare your peppers to be stuffed. If the peppers are round and fat, cut of the top to open up the pepper. If the shape is long and narrow, do not cut off the top. Cut the pepper in half lengthwise from stem to bottom. With a sharp paring knife and your fingers, trim out the ribs and seeds until the pepper is clean inside. If they do not sit flat, trim a tiny bit off the bottom so they are stable. Be careful not to cut through the pepper.
- Heat oil in a medium sauté pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it is soft and translucent. Turn heat down to medium low if it starts to brown. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring. Add the turkey (or beans), cumin, ginger, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring to break up the turkey, until the pink is just gone. Stir in the tomatoes with their juice, currants, feta and quinoa.
- Fill peppers firmly with the turkey-quinoa mixture. Mound it a little on top. Place peppers in a shallow casserole or baking dish, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees (177 C) oven until hot all of the way through, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees (74C), about 35 -40 minutes. Serve as soon as possible Alternatively, cool completely, cover the peppers and refrigerate. To serve the next day, heat covered in a 350 oven until hot.
Notes – For 2 servings: make the entire recipe for the stuffing. Use what you need and freeze the extra for future stuffed peppers. That’s a good time saving step.
Other Helpful Links:
For more information on bell peppers including their health benefits, antioxidant and anti-cancer benefits, read more at The World’s Healthiest Foods
For more information about the nutrition and benefits of quinoa, read the article on The World’s Healthiest Foods site
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