Southwest stuffed bell peppers are so easy to make. The flavors pop - this is comfort food at its finest.
Having grown up on the west side of the country, Southwestern-style cuisine has been a staple in my life for as long as I can remember. Inspired by Mexican fare, Southwestern food is all about the beans, rice, corn, bell peppers, and chilies. I love that any meal can be made with some Southwest style, and it can be as light or as filling as you’d like.
These stuffed bell peppers are an excellent representation of Southwestern cuisine and fall somewhere in the middle between fresh and light and rich and comforting. They’re filling, without being over-the-top indulgent, yet taste fresh, are filled with health benefits, and won’t put you in a food coma. Plus, they’re easy to prepare and make excellent leftovers!
Prior to learning about the Kitchen IQ Pepper Tool, I found myself tiptoeing around the bell pepper when it came down to stuffing them. Removing the stem and core of bell peppers can be difficult with a paring knife. I would often pierce or tear the skin, making them difficult to hold together after stuffing, or I would lose patience and simply cut the entire top off. In stuffed applications, bell peppers turn out best when part of the top is left on and only the stem and core is removed. This way, both the ingredients on the inside and the bell pepper steam and cook better, resulting in an out-of-this-world flavor meld.
In one fell swoop, the Kitchen IQ Pepper Tool removes the stem and the insides of the pepper quickly, making the stuffing process an absolute cinch. Simply insert the tool around the stem, turn in a complete circle, then pull. Out comes the stem and the core!
Be sure to select large, round bell peppers that are flat at the bottom, rather than tapered. This way, the bell peppers can stand up on their own through the baking process, allowing them to bake evenly. In addition, cooking the peppers in a bath of sauce allows them to cook more evenly. You can use regular tomato sauce, or do as I did and use enchilada sauce for some additional spice and flavor.
There are plenty of options for substitutions when it comes to this vegetarian recipe. First, the black beans can be replaced with garbanzo or pinto beans (or any bean of choice), you can add chopped canned chilies for additional spice, use any type of cheese for topping them, serve with guacamole, the list goes on and on. To make this meal more substantial, you can even add ground turkey, chicken, or beef. Simply brown 1/2 pound of your meat of choice and drain the juices before adding it to the rest of the rice mixture.
Prior to baking the stuffed peppers, I added shredded jack cheese on top, and once out of the oven, I served them with queso fresco. Because if there’s one thing that’s better than cheese, it’s two cheeses, am I right? Make these as an appetizer, side dish, or main course - they’re sure to please just about any crowd and can be made in advance and reheated easily.