These Mexican inspired Vegetarian Quinoa Stuffed Peppers are exceptionally tasty and perfect for a meatless Monday or meal prep. Red bell peppers are stuffed with quinoa cooked in delicious fresh salsa verde sauce, topped with grated cheese and baked in the oven.
One of the best things about summer is the abundance of fresh produce, in my opinion. Whether you have your own garden, farm share, good neighbors with a vegetable garden or a farmers market nearby, you probably end up with a ton of zucchini, peppers, nappa cabbage or whatever is in season at some point.
Freshly picked vegetables are the absolute best, don’t you agree?
The fun part is figuring out what to do with that abundance. For peppers and zucchini my go to dish is stuffing them with something delicious and baking in the oven. For zucchini ideas, I have a great recipe for Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats with ground chicken or super quick Tuna Melt Zucchini Boats.
Today I bring you a killer vegetarian stuffed peppers recipe that will satisfy anyone, even people who are not big fans of quinoa. Traditionally, stuffed peppers are filled with rice and ground meat and while I love that classic combo, I wanted to create something healthier, meatless and full of flavor.
On its own quinoa is rather bland and has a characteristic nutty flavor that some people love and others don’t. For this recipe, I decided to flavor this ancient grain with absolutely delicious homemade fresh salsa verde made with baby spinach, spicy jalapeño pepper, cilantro, onion, garlic and canned chilis. The stuffing is also filled with black beans for extra protein and fiber.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
Bell Peppers: the recipe calls for red bell peppers but feel free to use whatever you have on hand. Yellow, orange or even green bell peppers will all work great.
Quinoa: this ancient grain is high in protein and has a slightly nutty flavor. Use white, red or multicolor quinoa.
Baby Spinach: to add some color and all the goodness dark leafy greens have to offer.
Cilantro: no Mexican inspired dish should be made without cilantro, in my opinion. If you don’t like it, you can swap it for parsley.
Jalapeño Pepper: to add a touch of spice to the salsa verde. It will lose most of its heat in the cooking process and the finished dish is not particularly spicy. If you don’t like even a hint of spice, swap it for half a poblano pepper.
Onion & Garlic: used as aromatics in the salsa verde. For onion, use yellow, white or red.
Canned Green Chiles: to add to the Mexican profile of the dish. I used fire roasted canned chiles.
Lime: adds freshness to the dish.
Vegetable Broth: use homemade or good quality store bought vegetable broth, such as Imagine or Pacific. You can also swap it for chicken broth, if you prefer.
Black Beans: canned black beans work great in this recipe. Make sure to rinse them thoroughly and drain before adding to the stuffing.
Cheese: any cheese that melts will work great. I used Monterey Jack, but swap it for cheddar, Colby Jack, Havarti or your favorite cheese blend.
Cumin: to add warm and earthy flavor to the dish.
Salt & Pepper: to season the stuffing.
HOW TO MAKE VEGETARIAN MEXICAN STUFFED PEPPERS
Step 1: Make salsa verde. Blend spinach, jalapeño, cilantro, green chiles, onion, garlic and a splash of vegetable broth in a food processor or a blender until smooth.
Step 2: Toast the quinoa. In a deep skillet heat the oil, add dry quinoa and fry stirring constantly for a couple minutes until toasted and golden.
Step 3: Add salsa verde and the seasonings, cook a little more, pour in the broth, cover and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Step 4: Stir in the black beans. Squeeze in some lime juice.
Step 5: Prep & stuff the peppers. Cut the peppers lengthwise and remove all the seeds. You can keep the step on or cut it out. Stuff the peppers with the prepared quinoa and beans and top with grated cheese.
Step 6: Bake in preheated oven in an oiled casserole dish and covered with foil until tender. Uncover and bake a little more until the cheese is bubbly and slightly toasted. I like to turn the broiler on for the last minute or so.
HOW TO SERVE STUFFED PEPPERS
Serve these stuffed peppers with your favorite taco night toppings. Some suggestions for you include:
- Avocado slices
- Hot sauce (I like Cholula )
- Sour cream or Greek yogurt
- Chopped cilantro
- Freshly squeezed lime juice
MEAL PREP, STORAGE & FREEZING SUGGESTIONS
These stuffed peppers are perfect for meal prep. Just bake according to the recipe below, let cool, place in airtight containers and store in the fridge for up to 5 days. To serve, remove the lid and microwave for a minute or two until heated through and enjoy with or without toppings.
You can also freeze them baked or unbaked. If they’re already baked, place them in an airtight container (or a couple smaller containers), close the lid and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. To serve, let thaw completely on the counter or in the fridge overnight and heat in the microwave or oven until heated through before serving.
To turn these stuffed peppers into a freezer meal, follow all the instructions, place the uncooked stuffed peppers in the casserole dish, top with cheese and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can also place the casserole dish in a large ziplock bag (I like these gallon sized ziplock bags) to make sure no air is let in. When ready to bake, let thaw on the counter for a couple hours or overnight in the fridge. Bake according to the recipe covered with foil and uncover towards the end.
SUBSTITUTIONS & SPECIAL DIETS
There are many ways in which you can make these stuffed peppers your own. Here are some suggestions:
- If you don’t want to use black beans, you can skip them. You can also use different beans, such as pinto, black eyed peas or red kidney beans.
- Bell peppers are the most common peppers where I live but you could also use poblano or cubanelle peppers, especially if they’re abundant in your garden. For those types of peppers, I recommend cutting baking time by 10-15 minutes because their walls are thinner than bell peppers.
- If you don’t like cilantro, you can swap it for parsley.
- If you don’t like heat, swap the jalapeño for half a poblano pepper. However, since the jalapeño is seeded and cooked, it looses most of its spiciness.
- For a vegan version of this dish, skip the cheese.
- These stuffed peppers are naturally gluten-free.
If you made these Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Peppers or if you have any questions about this recipe, please leave me a comment below. I would love to hear from you!
No time to make these now? Pin the recipe for later (click on any image to pin)!
MORE MEATLESS DINNER IDEAS
- Cauliflower Shawarma Bowls
- Greek Chickpea Salad
- Creamy Veggie Baked Feta Chickpea Pasta
- Tofu Tikka Masala
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These Mexican inspired Quinoa Stuffed Peppers are exceptionally tasty and perfect for a meatless Monday or meal prep. Red bell peppers are stuffed with quinoa cooked with delicious fresh salsa verde sauce, topped with grated cheese and baked in the oven.
4 large red bell peppers
1 cup quinoa
1 15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1 cup baby spinach, packed
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
½ onion, roughly chopped
1 4oz green chiles
½ cup chopped cilantro
1 ¼ cup vegetable broth, divided
Juice from ½ lime
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
⅔ cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
- Make salsa verde. In a bowl of a food processor or standup blender combine cilantro, garlic, onion, green chiles, jalapeño, spinach and ¼ cup vegetable broth. Blend until smooth.
- In a deep skillet heat olive oil, add dry quinoa and toast stirring for a couple minutes until golden on medium heat. Add salsa verde, cumin, salt and pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes until bubbly. Then add 1 cup vegetable broth, turn the stove to simmer and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, 15-20 minutes. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Stir in black beans, squeeze in lime juice and set aside. The quinoa should be slightly saucy (it will cook more in the peppers) and well-seasoned.
- While the quinoa is cooking heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray or brush a 9x13 casserole dish with avocado or olive oil (or other non-stick spray).
- Cut the peppers lengthwise and remove the seeds.
- Stuff the pepper halves with quinoa and black beans until all the stuffing is used up.
- Place stuffed peppers in the prepared casserole dish, sprinkle with grated cheese and cover tightly with foil.
- Bake for 35 minutes covered, then uncover and bake 10 more minutes (or more if you like your peppers very tender). If you want the cheese to be toasted, turn the broiler on at the very end for a minute or 2.
- Serve with your favorite toppings: avocado slices, sour cream, hot sauce, salsa or more chopped cilantro.
Use whatever grated cheese you like if you don't have Monterey Jack. Cheddar, Colby Jack or your favorite blend will all work.
Replace jalapeño pepper with half a poblano pepper if you don't want any heat.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Category: dinner
- Cuisine: Mexican
Keywords: stuffed peppers, quinoa stuffed peppers, Mexican stuffed peppers, vegetarian stuffed peppers