Thursday, June 7, 2012

Stuffed Sweet Peppers: A Fiesta on a Plate!

Beautiful and brightly colored sweet bell peppers

Back in college I spent a semester studying in Colima, Mexico, where I took an extra curricular cooking class to learn how to make some of the local specialties. Chiles Rellenos Colimenses (Colima style stuffed peppers) was my favorite dish I learned to prepare. So, inspired by my days in Mexico, I cooked up a fresh new version and boosted the nutrition in some clever little ways. Wow, was it delicious. I knew it was going to be tasty, but it was truly spectacular. I love it when things turn out even better than planned!

Traditionally, this dish uses poblano peppers, but I opted to use some beautiful and sweet bell peppers. I used red, orange and yellow. Figure a half of a pepper per person per serving. But I suspect you will want more than just one serving;)

Savory filling simmers as the sweet peppers prepare to be stuffed!


  • 3-4 of your favorite colors of bell peppers cut in half and cleaned out
  • 1 cup of quinoa, cooked according to package instructions (could sub brown rice)
  • 1/2 cup raisins, diced (could sub dried cherries or cranberries)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 white or red onion diced
  • 1/2 cup nuts (pepitas, almond slivers, or walnut pieces are all good)
  • 1 jar/can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 large jar/can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 2 cups potatoes (boiled until tender, then diced into cubes)
  • 1-2 cups of diced cooked carrots
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • cumin, salt, pepper, oregano, garlic and onion powders, olive oil (or your preferred cooking oil)
  • * Optional toppings: 1 cup shredded or crumbled cheese; salsa verde/tomatillo salsa; jalepenos, chipotle salsa.
Sweet and Savory Stuffed Peppers (chiles rellenos)

Start by halving and cleaning the peppers and place in a glass baking dish, and roast at 350 degrees until they are beginning to caramelize around the edges and flesh is tender (15-ish minutes). While they roast, brown the turkey in a large skillet, seasoning liberally with cumin, salt, pepper. Add a bit of olive oil and mix in onions, garlic, spinach and stir until the spinach wilts down. Next, add the carrots, potatoes, quinoa, raisins and  nuts. Mix well, and add tomatoes (do not drain them). Season with oregano, garlic and onion powders. Cover and turn off heat. When the peppers are soft but still hold their bowl like shape, spoon in the mixture.You will have extra filling that can be used as a sauce to top them off when serving. Top with your favorite shredded or crumbled cheese*, and put back into the oven for 10-15 minutes. I used feta crumbles, just a few on top. Too much cheese will make it a much heavier meal and take away from all of the flavors and textures.

This really has everything you could need or want all in one pretty and delicious little package. The dried fruit and roasted tomatoes add a nice but subtle sweetness to the otherwise savory dish. The quinoa and nuts add some texture, and the spinach and peppers pack a nutritional punch to round out the meal. I like mine with a little more heat, so I add sliced jalepenos and chipotle sauce to the ones for the grown ups.

I hope you enjoy this fresh fiesta on a plate!