Italian Stuffed Bell Peppers

One of my favorite prepared meals from Trader Joe’s are their stuffed bell peppers. It’s one of those Trader Joe’s items that doesn’t get a whole lotta love, but is simply delicious! I’ve been wanting to recreate their stuffed peppers for a while but it’s taken a couple of tries to get this recipe to TJ’s standard. You would think stuffed bell peppers would be easy to make because you can stuff them with literally anything, but if your measurements are even slightly off, you can end up with a dry, underseasoned dish that is lackluster.

However, after a couple of trial runs, I can honestly say that I think I have perfected this recipe and it might even give the TJ’s version a run for its money. 

What I love about stuffed bell peppers is that 1) they are a filling and healthy dinner option, and 2) taste even better the next day meaning they make great leftovers. This particular recipe is delicious for its combination of fresh basil and Italian spices.

What’s in this Recipe:

  1. Bell Peppers: A given, but one note on bell peppers is that I recommend using organic bell peppers. Any time you eat the skin on produce, consider getting organic to avoid ingesting any harsh chemicals/pesticides that might be on the produce. 
  2. Ground Turkey/Chicken: The original version from Trader Joe’s uses both ground chicken and ground turkey, so either or both will work perfectly in this recipe.  I personally like using 93% lean white meat and LOVE Mary’s Organics!
  3. Brown Rice: Naturally gluten-free, brown rice makes these bell peppers hearty and healthy. I love the texture it adds and how filling it makes this dish feel. If you are not gluten-free you can substitute couscous or orzo which are both also delicious!
  4. Jarred Pasta Sauce: I refrain from saying “marinara’ because I am not a fan of it personally. So, rather than use marinara, I suggest using a tomato-based pasta sauce that’s a little more exciting. I used tomato-mushroom sauce to add a nice umami flavor, though a puttanesca or tomato-basil would also be delicious!
  5. Fresh Basil: This is probably the most important ingredient in this recipe because it brings the dish to life with a bright, herbaceous note. Don’t skimp on basil in this recipe because it truly makes this dish!
  6. Italian Seasoning: Italian seasoning is wildly underrated. It adds notes of rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage making these bell peppers anything but bland. 
Italian Stuffed Bell Peppers

Italian Stuffed Bell Peppers

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground lean turkey/chicken
  • 3 large, red bell peppers
  • 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup jarred red sauce (marinara, puttanesca, tomato basil etc.)
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • shredded parmesan and mozzarella to sprinkle on top

Instructions

    1. Line a baking dish or sheet pan that has a lip, with foil and preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
    2. While the oven preheats, slice the bell peppers in half lengthwise, leaving the stem intact, and remove the seeds.
    3. Brush a thin coating of olive oil on both sides of the peppers and season with salt and pepper.
    4. Next, heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large pan over medium heat and add your ground chicken/turkey to the pan. Season it with 1 tsp of Italian seasoning as well as salt and pepper to taste, and cook until browned.
    5. Cook the brown rice according to package instructions. I use Trader Joe’s microwavable brown rice for simplicity.
    6. Then, add the rice, diced tomatoes, and ¼ cup of the pasta sauce to the ground chicken/turkey, and simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes the tomato juices reduce slightly.
    7. Next, chiffonade (thinly slice) the basil and stir it into the mixture.
    8. Stuff each bell pepper, making sure to pack the filling into every crevice of the pepper. Don’t be afraid to overfill the peppers either!
    9. Top each bell pepper with a tablespoon of pasta sauce.
    10. Loosely cover the baking dish with foil and bake covered for 40 minutes.
    11. After 40 minutes, remove the foil, sprinkle cheese over the top of the peppers, and broil for 5 minutes.
    12. Then, remove the peppers from the oven, top with more fresh basil if desired, and enjoy!

Notes

Store bell pepeprs in a covered container in the fridge for 3-4 days after preparation. To reheat, place in a baking dish, cover with foil, and cook at 375 for 15 minues.

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