I’m coming in hot with some comfort food for you today! Stuffed peppers are quintessential Fall fare, and my vegetarian version is sure to become a favorite. I took flavor notes from more traditional versions, and transformed them into a heart healthy recipe for everyone. A delicious combination of brown rice, lentils, and mushrooms lend some awesome texture, while a homemade marinara sauce, herbs, and liquid smoke add a meaty, umami feel. Even self-proclaimed “carnivores” will love these Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers.
How to cut the peppers
This is how I like to cut the peppers for stuffed peppers. It is definitely not the only way! First, I cut the top of the pepper off horizontally. Scoop out the seeds and as much of the white pith as you can, using a spoon. You can save the tops of the peppers to slice and eat later, or add to your bag for homemade vegetable broth, but they will not be used in this recipe.
If your pepper won’t sit straight in the pan, slice off a bit of the bottom to make it flat. Be careful not to slice off too much – you don’t want a hole in the bottom!
How to make heart healthy stuffed peppers
This recipe is low in saturated fat, sodium, and calories, while being high in fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. A winning combination for heart health! Typical stuffed peppers are high in saturated fat and sodium, since they are usually made with both ground beef and cheese – also making them higher on the calorie end.
While making stuffed peppers does take a bit of time, it’s mostly hands-off time (like baking time), and the steps are easy. I’ve put together some pictures to help you with the steps! If you want to save some time, use a jarred marinara sauce – just watch the sodium in it.
Can I prep stuffed peppers ahead of time?
Yes! This recipe is great for meal prep! To make these ahead of time, simply follow the recipe up to step 8 (which is to fill the peppers and top with sauce), and then cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake them off. You can do this up to 5-7 days in advance. To bake them, preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and bake the peppers as the recipe instructs. You may find you want to bake them a little longer since they’ll be cold, but that’s up to you.
What sides go with stuffed peppers?
There are a lot of options here, but it can be difficult to decide, especially since there are already a lot of elements in the stuffed pepper itself. Most side dish recipes with an Italian flair would go well, since there are a lot of Italian flavors present. Here are some ideas of side dishes to go with stuffed peppers:
- Simple steamed vegetables like green beans, broccoli, or cauliflower
- Sautéed vegetables like Simple Smoky Sautéed Spinach
- Tossed salad with Fall/Winter greens like arugula or romaine
- A fruit salad, or mixed fruit/veggie salad like Broiled Grapefruit & Fennel Salad
- Garlic Roasted Green Beans
- Extra brown rice or quinoa you might have (or make more than you need for the recipe)
No matter what you serve it with, Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers will delight! If you try it, let me know in the comments!
Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
These delicious peppers are stuffed with a mixture of lentils, mushrooms, and rice, for a winning combination even meat eaters will devour!
- 6 medium-sized Bell Peppers, any color
- 2 tsp Olive Oil
- 1 medium Onion, diced
- 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 8 oz White Mushrooms, diced small
- ½ tsp Liquid Smoke
- 1 cup cooked Brown/Green Lentils
- 1 cup cooked Brown Rice or Quinoa
- 2 cups Marinara Sauce, divided (or low sodium brand of choice)
To make Marinara Sauce
- 1 tsp Olive Oil
- 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 2 ½ lbs fresh, ripe Tomatoes (or 28 oz can no added salt diced or crushed tomatoes)
- 2 tsp dried Basil
- 1 tsp dried Oregano
- Pinch of Salt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut the tops off the peppers, and scoop out the insides. Arrange the peppers in a 9×13 (or similarly sized) baking dish. Spray a bit of oil in the bottom if you are worried about them sticking. If the peppers won’t sit upright, cut a small slice off the bottom until they won’t fall over.
To make Marinara Sauce: Heat oil in a pot over medium heat, and add the garlic. Saute until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, basil, and oregano. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes, and add to a large blender or food processor. Pulse until large chunks are gone. Taste, and add a bit of salt if needed. Return to the pot and keep warm.
In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat.
Add the onions and garlic, and saute until translucent.
Add the mushrooms to the pan, and continue cooking until the mushrooms release their liquid, and most of the liquid evaporates.
Add the liquid smoke, lentils, rice and 1 cup marinara sauce, and warm through.
Scoop the filling into the prepared peppers, dividing evenly. Pour a spoonful of marinara sauce onto each pepper.
Cover with a lid or aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, uncover, and bake another 15-20 minutes, until bubbly.
Serve hot with the remaining marinara sauce.