Are you tempted by the lovely basket of peppers at the Farmer’s Market but not quite sure how to deal with so many all at once?
Since most recipes seem to call for one pepper at a time, you either have to preserve the peppers by freezing or dehydrating, or find a great stuffed pepper recipe. If your family likes Mexican food, this lower carb, grain-free twist on taco night will send you to the Farmer’s Market in a hurry!
- 3–5 bell peppers, green or colored, halved, seeds removed
- 1/2 lb. ground beef (or a full pound)
- 1 Tbs. taco seasoning (or follow package directions for 1/2 pound beef)
- 1 1/2 c. frozen corn (optional)
- 2 c. black beans (prepared from dried or about 1 can)
- 1 16 oz. jar salsa
- 1/4 c. diced red onion
- (optional) other vegetables: diced red pepper, zucchini, leafy greens, etc…anything you have on hand to enhance the mixture
- (optional) extra kidney beans or lentils to fill in for the missing 1/2 lb. ground beef
- (optional) up to 1 c. shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
- Brown meat and add taco seasoning, following directions on packet or with seasoning recipe to make basic taco meat.
- If using a half pound ground beef, you might brown a whole pound and freeze the other half for an easy pasta meal the next week.
- Consider adding cooked lentils or kidney beans at this point and double the taco seasoning accordingly.
- Add all the other ingredients except the cheese and heat through on the stovetop.
- Be creative with the vegetables you have on hand; it’s hard to go wrong with a whole jar of salsa and some taco seasoning already in the mix!
- Meanwhile, use a steamer basket to steam the halved peppers for 5-10 minutes until somewhat softened but not cooked to death.
- Arrange in an oval or 9×13 casserole dish and “stuff” the filling into each pepper generously.
- This filling is a bit like the loaves and fishes: everything is suddenly full and there’s still more left!
- I often end up with more filling than I need, which becomes great taco-style leftovers or freezes well for a future meal.
- After filling, top the peppers with shredded cheese and broil or bake at 350F for 5-10 minutes to brown the cheese.
You can skip the steaming peppers step and simply fill the raw peppers, adding a little water around them in the casserole dish to soften them up while it bakes, but you’ll have to bake 30 minutes, covered, before removing the cover for 5-10 minutes to brown the cheese. You can also freeze raw peppers, simply halved, and then they’re ready for the next stuffed pepper meal, especially if you freeze a jar of leftover filling!
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The day I took this photo, I used only a half pound ground beef but added some beef heart, half an ear of corn that was leftover in the fridge, regular white onions instead of red, and orange peppers. I also threw in a can of kidney beans. Often some spinach sneaks in, and it’s really quite alright without any corn for a lower carb option. This is nothing if not a versatile meal!
The original recipe called for a cup of cooked brown rice, but I’ve taken that out to make it a very diabetes-friendly meal for when my mother-in-law visits. The beans could decrease and the meat increase if you’re very serious about low carb; I’m more serious about my food budget, so I go the opposite way with meat and beans.
Pepper notes: Red and green peppers are classic stuffed pepper options, but if you like a little heat, try this recipe with fresh poblanos (amazing!), and if you like a little fanciness, make roasted red peppers and then stuff those. Remember, you can always freeze the peppers cut in half (even roasted) and ready for the filling so that you can capture the essence of fresh summer produce any time of year!