Traditional versions of stuffed peppers use green bell peppers, ground beef and rice. Here’s my updated recipe for turkey quinoa stuffed peppers with ground turkey, nutrition-packed quinoa and tomatoes. And 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 at the end.
Turkey Quinoa Stuffed Peppers: Choosing Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are packed with vitamins C, A and E and make a great vessel for a savory filling and satisfying dinner. 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 available 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 sautéing the filling, stuff your peppers and bake according to my directions below.
Make The Filling
I prefer mild tasting ground turkey instead of beef. When you shop for ground turkey, read the label or talk with the butcher to understand the fat content. Ground turkey can have a big range in terms of fat. It’s not automatically lower in fat than beef, as you might think. If you can get 10% – 15% 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.
Instead of rice, I use quinoa – light, fluffy, and packed with protein and fiber. It’s also a complete protein, meaning it provides all of the essential amino acids our bodies need. It’s a great swap for rice in this recipe.
- 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.
Vegan or dairy-free option
- Do the vegetarian option and skip the feta cheese. Stuffed bell peppers are a healthy, tasty and nutritious main dish. Add a tossed green salad and you are set.
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
Turkey and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
- 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
- 4 large bell peppers red, orange or yellow
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 large garlic cloves finely chopped
- 3/4 pound ground turkey
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger or jarred puree
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1-14 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons dried currants
- 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
Start by rinsing the quinoa under cold running through a fine sieve. Place rinsed quinoa in a small pot. Add 1 1/2 cups of cold water to the pot. Bring it to a boil, then cover and turn heat down to low. Cook 15-18 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to finish by steaming 5-10 minutes more. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
Prepare the peppers to be stuffed. If the peppers are round and fat, cut off 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, 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.
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.
Nutritional analysis per serving (2 pepper halves): calories 464, fat 20 g, saturated fat 7 g, cholesterol 88 mg, fiber 8 g, protein 28 g, carbohydrate 45 g, sodium 342 mg, sugars 15 g.