I thought I would post a Halloween recipe that isn’t going to give you a sugar high. So many Halloween and autumn recipes are sweet and sugary, which is in the spirit of the holiday, but you still need to eat dinner, right? This recipe was delicious! I usually don’t really like bell peppers, but I ate a whole one myself. This recipe is nothing but healthy. It’s a vegetarian recipe, but it doesn’t feel like it is missing a thing. It feels like a complete meal, even without meat. And it is so fun to carve the spooky faces into the peppers. And lets face it, it is so much easier to gut a bell pepper than a pumpkin.
Oh, and makes it all the more fun if you name your peppers and pretend you are stuffing their heads with brains! I named my two guys Lenny and Squiggy (my husband didn’t think it was a good idea to tell you that I named them this, because my boss is named Lenny and he may see this someday. So Lenny, if you are reading this, my pepper is not named after you and this is in no way a jab at my employer. Lenny and Squiggy are simply my favorite characters on the old show Lavern and Shirley.Click here if you don’t know who they are.) Happy Halloween!
- 6 large orange sweet bell peppers that can stand on their own
- 2 C. cooked brown rice
- 1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed or minced
- 3 small tomatoes, chopped
- 1 C. corn, frozen,canned, or fresh
- 1/2 C. canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 C. canned black beans, rinsed and drained
- 3/4 C. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
- 1 C. (4.25 oz.) chopped ripe olives
- 1 C. roughly chopped mushrooms
- 4 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1 jar meatless spaghetti sauce. divided (you might not use the whole jar)
- 1/2 C. water
- Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
1. In a large pot, boil enough water to cover all the peppers. Cut tops from peppers and remove seeds. Place the peppers in the boiling water for a few minutes, until they are just starting to soften. Once they are done boiling, quickly transfer them to a bowl of ice water to shock them and help them retain their orange color.
2. Meanwhile, cook onions and garlic with a little drizzle of olive oil on the stove top. Once they are soft, add them to a large bowl. Add the cooked rice, tomatoes, corn, beans, Monterey Jack cheese, olives, mushrooms, basil, salt, pepper, and stir to combine.
3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Pour about 3/4 C. of the spaghetti sauce to the rice and beans mixture and stir. You want to moisten up the mixture, so if it still seems dry, add a little more spaghetti sauce.
4. Using a very sharp, small knife, carve Jack-o-Lantern faces into each pepper. Leave the cut out parts in place during the baking so the stuffing will stay in, but make sure you cut all the way through so they will easily pop out once they are done cooking.
5. Generously stuff the peppers with the rice and beans mixture. Place in a large rimmed baking pan and add a little of the water to the bottom of the pan. Scoop some spaghetti sauce onto to top of each pepper and top with a generous pile of Parmesan.
6. Cover pan with tin foil and bake for about 40 minutes. Check half way through and add more water, if the original water has evaporated. Remove tin foil and bake for 10-15 more minutes, or until cheese is golden and crispy. You may need to adjust how long you cook it, depending on how full you stuffed it, how many pepper you do, and how hot your oven cooks. You basically just want the peppers soft enough and the stuffing piping hot.
7. Remove peppers from oven and let sit for about 10 minutes so the juices can settle. Remove Jack-o-Lantern face pieces. Dig in!
Note: You don’t have to cook all 6 peppers. I actually only made two. The filling is great in tacos or stuffed in squash or mushrooms. It was really nice to have some extra filling for future meals!