Jack-o’-Lantern Stuffed Peppers
Halloween is filled with creative and playful costumes, pumpkins on doorsteps, haunted houses, and plenty of festive treats. And I don’t know about you, but I usually associate this holiday with heaps of sugar. Chocolate bars, toffees, candies, you name it. It’s enough sugar to make my teeth hurt just thinking about it – and to get the kids really bouncing off the walls! Thank goodness it only comes around once a year…
What I love about this jack-o’-lantern stuffed peppers recipe is that it’s a festive twist on a savory dish that lets my family enjoy the holiday with a little less sugar. They’re a fun Halloween treat to prepare for your kids and something you can feel great about them digging into! The fun part is in carving the bell peppers, which act as edible jack-o’-lanterns. You’ll want a sharp knife for this, and ideally one that’s small enough to make tiny cuts (a paring knife works well). Then you’ll simply carve out little eyes, a nose, and a smile. And ta-da, the hard part is over!
These cute little jack-o’-lantern “pumpkins” are filled with a fiesta-inspired mix of spices, ground turkey, and black beans. The filling comes together in a pinch, and the flavors are reminiscent of a much more wholesome taco filling. You can keep these vegan by swapping the filling with Quinoa Stuffing. Once your filling is prepared, simply stuff it inside your carved peppers and pop them in the oven. A sprinkling of cheese brings this dish together. Serve warm and dig in. Happy Halloween!
- 4 Orange Bell Peppers
- 1 cup cooked rice (any variety. I used Jasmine)
- 1 tbsp cooking oil (I used olive oil), plus additional for coating sheet pan.
- 1 pound 90% lean ground sirloin
- 1 medium yellow or white onion, diced small
- 8 ounces small fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 16 ounces (2 cups) roasted red pepper sauce (jarred sauce works too!)
- 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper, to taste
Here are your instructions:
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Use a sharp knife to slice the top off each bell pepper horizontally. Set tops aside (do not discard) Remove all seeds and membranes. Rinse and pat the peppers dry with paper toweling or a clean, soft cloth. Use a small paring knife to cut holes into the exterior of the peppers to make jack-o-lantern faces. If peppers don't stand upright, use the knife to slice a small amount from the bottom to flatten the surface.
Cook rice according to package directions. As rice cooks, use olive oil or non-stick spray to lightly grease a small sheet pan. Arrange peppers and tops of peppers on pan and cook in oven for 20-25 minutes, or until peppers are cooked, but still are still firm (al dente). Remove peppers from oven and allow to cool while you make the filling.
Instructions for The Filling:
Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and mushrooms and saute for 3-4 minutes, or until mushrooms have softened and reduced in size. Increase heat to medium high. Add ground sirloin and spices to pan and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until no pink remains.
Drain excess grease from pan, reduce heat to medium low, then add pasta sauce and cooked rice. Stir to combine and cook for 2-3 more minutes, or until mixture is heated through.
Prior to serving, fill each pepper with approximately 1 cup of mixture, over filling each pepper slightly. Place a top onto each stuffed pepper and serve with a big jack-o-lantern smile!