I’m sure you have that one item you always linger past in the grocery story, teetering on the edge of purchasing. Perhaps it’s the 4 pound bag of spinach… “If I buy it, I’ll be forced to consume its leafy nastiness and reap the fibrous health benefits.” Maybe it’s the box of red wine, containing a total of four bottles in one cardboard container… “If I hide it under said bag of spinach, no one will see it and I can spare myself the mortification of admitting I CAN’T TELL the difference between fancy bottles and boxes.” Or maybe you’re like me, and it’s the bulk package of bright bell peppers that get you every time… “They’re so pretty but so expensive. Do I even like the taste enough to splurge on it?”
As you can see, splurge I did. While I’m not an overwhelming fan of the taste of bell peppers, I simply cannot resist their bright, smooth, happily-shaped pods of garden goodness. We tried growing them in our spring garden several times, but our green thumbs weren’t green enough to produce more than a dozen, and they were small and slightly bitter at that. I asked Google what I did wrong, but its answer wasn’t straightforward.
So I succumb to aesthetic food-tation (my term for food + temptation) from time to time and buy these little beauties, forever pondering how to consume them in a way that will make the purchase worthwhile.
Some kind of stir fry or fajita concoction usually does the trick, smothered in a savory sauce or nestled as a makeshift bed for smoky meats and juicy sauteed onions. But a classic, stuffed pepper dish was on the agenda this go-round, and it did not disappoint.
There are no less than a bajillion different stuffed pepper recipes floating around the internet, but I made an oath to the food blog gods to share the real dishes that traipse through our kitchen, both the exciting and new, and the classic staples.
This is a ridiculously easy and impressive dinner. Use it as an excuse to clean out your refrigerator of any vegetables lurking on the edge on the edge of wiltedness in the crisper. I simply shredded a rotisserie chicken and tossed it in a bed of rice, bright and flavorful spices, roasted corn, black beans, and a base of savory onions, garlic, and mushrooms.
I cut the peppers in half down the middle instead of coring them because I wanted a higher stuffing to pepper ratio. And it’s an excuse to use more cheese, but we don’t have to linger on that embarrassing but all-American admission.
This recipe creates a delicious heaping of chicken and rice stuffing, so I suggest stuffing the peppers first, then laying the leftover filling in a cast iron skillet (or baking dish), placing the peppers stuffing-side-up on top. With cheese. All the cheese.
Bake those beauties until golden and bubbly, then devour. Even after a few days in the refrigerator as leftovers, these heat up beautifully, especially when served with a side of avocado or fresh salsa (and chips, if you’re on a carb bender).
Until next time, beautiful bell peppers! I shall lurk too long in front of you at the grocery store at least a few more times before making an actual purchase.
Southwestern Stuffed Bell Peppers
- 4 bell peppers halved and seeds removed
- 1 cup long grain rice cooked to package instructions
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 2 1/2 cups cooked corn (mine were frozen and then roasted in the oven)
- 1 can black beans rinsed and drained
- 1 cup cremini mushrooms sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1/2 cup favorite salsa
- 1 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese
- In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the onion, mushrooms, and garlic until translucent and fragrant. Add the cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin, and chili powder. Combine and cook, toasting for about 3 minutes.
- Add the corn, beans, chicken, rice, and salsa to the skillet and combine. Warm through.
- Using a medium spoon, stuff the pepper halves until slightly overflowing with the chicken and rice mixture. Set aside. Layer the chicken and rice mixture in an empty cast iron skillet or baking dish. Nestle the filled pepper halves into the mixture, and top with cheese.
- Bake the peppers in an oven heated at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly. Serve warm.