Peppers are nature’s casserole dish.
Anytime I’m thinking of cooking a wonderful casserole, I always think about cooking it in peppers instead of in a large glass dish. It makes portioning the casserole easier and the clean-up is a breeze because you don’t have to soak a casserole dish that has gunk baked on it.
In addition, the peppers can give the stuffing some nice texture and spice and turn a casserole from a side dish into a full meal.
This is my most recent casserole stuffed in a pepper attempt and it turned out fantastically.
1) Dice onion. Heat oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pan. Once hot, add onion and cook for a minute or two.
2) Add in cumin, paprika, pepper, and wild rice. Stir together and let cook for a few minutes.
3) Stir in diced tomato, salsa, and enough water to cook rice (check package but normally 2-3 cups per cup of rice).
4) Cover and bring to a simmer, then turn heat down and cook until rice is done (check package), probably 30-40 minutes.
5) Once rice is done, kill heat and keep it covered for 5 minutes. Then spoon into a bowl.
6) Mix drained beans, corn, and cheese in with rice mixture. Season with salt.
7) Cut poblanos in half, remove the seeds and lay out in a baking sheet.
8) Stuff each pepper with rice mixture. It's okay to overflow the peppers. Stuff them very full.
9) Bake peppers at 375 for 20-30 minutes until filling is melted and peppers are softened slightly. I still like my peppers to have a tiny bit of crunch though.
10) Serve with sliced avocado, cilantro, and hot sauce.
The Wild Rice
I wanted something really nutty and hearty as my base for this and while normal white rice would work fine, I really recommend trying to find a nice wild rice or brown rice mixture.
I found a great mixture that I’ve been in love with recently, but you can literally use any rice that you want for the recipe.
Making the rice mixture is really the only work that this dish involves and it’s basically like making a rice and bean filling.
Start by heating a good drizzle of olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add in your diced onion and cook them for a minute or two until they start to soften.
Then toss in your spices: cumin, paprika, and red pepper flakes.
Stir these up and cook them for another 2-3 minutes. This will toast the spices and make them really flavorful.
Next, stir in your diced tomato, salsa, and rice.
Check your rice packaging to determine how much water you should add to this to cook the rice. Most rices will be in the 2-3 cups water per cup of rice, but it depends totally on what rice you use so you’ll just have to read the directions.
Anyway, add that amount of water and bring it all to a simmer.
The rice will look really tiny to start because we have so much other stuff in there, but that will change as it cooks.
Once the mixture is simmering, cover it, turn the heat to low, and cook it as long as your packaging states.
For me this was about 35-40 minutes, but I was using a really hearty rice mix. If you use white rice, it’ll be in the 20 minute range probably.
Once the time is up, kill the heat but let the rice continue to steam for about 5 minutes covered in the pan.
Then you can scoop it out. The rice should be nice and fluffy and really flavorful.
Once the rice is cooked, stir in your drained black beans, corn, and cheddar cheese.
This is also a good time to taste the filling and season it well with salt and pepper. It’ll probably need a good pinch of both.
Cooking the Peppers
Poblanos are the perfect stuffing pepper. They are big enough to hold a meal of food and not too spicy so you can eat a whole one without too much issue.
Just cut your peppers in half and then scoop out the seeds. Give them a quick rinse and then lay them out in a baking sheet.
Fill these really full with the rice mixture. You can pile the mixture up over the edges of the peppers without worry.
Depending on the size of your peppers, you might have some leftover filling. Save it for burritos or something on another day.
Once your peppers are stuffed, bake them at 375 degrees for around 25 minutes. The filling should be melted and delicious and the peppers should be soft, but still a bit crunchy.
You don’t want them to be mushy at all.
I like to serve these bad boys with sliced avocado and some cilantro. A dab of hot sauce doesn’t hurt either.
One of these pepper halves is a pretty good lunch or side dish. Two of them is a full meal without question.
They are filling and really flavorful and clean up couldn’t be easier.
If you have a leftover pepper or two they will keep for a few days in the fridge without a problem.