If you're looking for a healthy and delicious meal that's easy to make, look no further than Lentil Stuffed Peppers. This recipe is loaded with protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals, making it a nutritious and filling meal that's perfect for any time of day. Plus, it's incredibly versatile, so you can adjust the ingredients to your liking.
This has become one of my husband’s favorite recipes. He recently had to have his gallbladder removed and was told his diet would have to change significantly. Indulgent Italian food was a staple in his diet up until recently. He loves homemade meatballs, and for our first Valentine’s Day I surprised him by dropping off an Italian sub with all the fixings for lunch. These lentil-stuffed peppers are so tasty and packed with seasoning that they have become his go-to recipe to request when he is looking for indulgent and comforting Italian food. The last time I made these I thought I was going to have enough left over for a few days. But I kept catching him, eating them cold directly out of the refrigerator. Yes, they are really that good:)
Making the Lentil and Quinoa Ahead of Time:
To save time, you can cook the lentils and quinoa ahead of time. Cook them according to package instructions and store them in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to three days. When you're ready to make the Lentil Stuffed Peppers, simply mix the lentils and quinoa with the other ingredients and stuff the peppers.
Customize and use leftovers:
You can customize this recipe by using different types of rice or quinoa. This is another reason I love this recipe so much is that you can use whatever kind of leftover grain you have in your refrigerator. I’ve done it with rice, barley, and quinoa. I’m sure you could try it with farro. Experiment and let me know how it goes in the comment section.
Lentils are a great source of protein and fiber, making them a nutritious addition to any meal. They also add a hearty, meaty texture to vegetarian and vegan dishes, making them a popular choice for plant-based diets. In this recipe, we use cooked green lentils, but you can also use canned lentils for added convenience. I am currently obsessed with cooking with lentils because they are so versatile- from salads like Lentil salad with broccoli and lemon anchovy dressing and Lentil Salad with Feta and Pomegranate (Lettuce Wrap), to soups and strews like Smoky Slow Cooker Stewed Lentils and Chickpeas and lentil curry with sweet potatoes and spinach.
Grain (quinoa, rice, or barley)
A cooked grain is the perfect complement to the lentils in this recipe, adding a chewy texture and filling out the stuffing. Quinoa, rice, and barley all work well in this recipe, so choose your favorite or use what you have on hand.
Bell pepper have a convenient shape and size cavity for lentil stuffing. Bell peppers are colorful and provide a sweet and slightly tangy flavor that complements the lentil and grain stuffing. Depending on the size of the peppers you might need 4-6 peppers for this amount of stuffing. I am planning on trying it in jalapenos and banana peppers but if you beat me to it let me know how they come out.
Mozzarella cheese adds a creamy and slightly salty flavor to the lentil stuffing. We use low-moisture mozzarella in this recipe, which has a firmer texture and is less likely to become watery when baked.
The herbs (oregano, thyme, and basil):
This is the key to the Italian flavor! The combination of oregano, thyme, and basil adds a fragrant and savory flavor to the lentil stuffing. I love having growing fresh herbs in my kitchen year round but you can definitely use dried if that's all you have.
Red pepper flakes
If you like a little heat, adding a pinch of red pepper flakes to the lentil stuffing will give it a nice kick. Adjust the amount to your preference, or leave them out entirely if you prefer a milder flavor.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
In a large pot, cook the rice according to the package instructions. In a separate pot, cook the lentils according to package instructions.
In a large skillet, sauté the onion over medium heat until it becomes translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
Add the cooked rice, cooked lentils, diced tomatoes (with their juices), ¼ cup of shredded mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, black pepper, salt, oregano, thyme, basil, and parsley to a bowl. Mix in the sauteed vegetables until well combined.
Slice the peppers in half and scoop out the seeds and white membranes. I like to keep the steam intact, if give you a larger well to scoop the filling and it just looks nice.
Place the bell pepper halves in a baking dish. Fill each half with the lentil mixture, using a spoon to pack it in tightly. Top each pepper half with the remaining ¼ cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the peppers are tender and the cheese is melted and lightly browned.
What to Serve with Lentil Stuffed Peppers
Lentil Stuffed Peppers are a complete meal in themselves, but you can serve them with a side salad or some crusty bread to make it even more filling. You can also pair them with a light soup or over homemade tomato sauce.
How to Store and Reheat Lentil Stuffed Peppers
If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. To reheat, simply place the peppers in the oven at 350°F for 15-20 minutes, or until they are heated through.
You can also freeze the Lentil Stuffed Peppers for up to two months. To freeze, wrap each stuffed pepper half tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and place them in a freezer-safe container. When you're ready to eat them, let the peppers thaw in the refrigerator overnight, and then reheat them in the oven at 350°F for 20-25 minutes, or until they are heated through.
More Stuffed Vegetables
If you enjoyed a recipe for Lentil Stuffed Peppers, there are many other similar dishes that you might also like. Polenta stuffed peppers offer a different twist, with a creamy and satisfying polenta filling. If you're looking for a southwestern flair, you might enjoy trying stuffed summer squash with a spicy black bean filling, or stuffed tomatoes with a similar flavor profile. For a heartier meal, Italian sausage stuffed portabella mushrooms and Italian sausage stuffed summer squash are delicious options. Each of these recipes provides a unique twist on the classic stuffed pepper, and there's something for every taste preference.
If you’ve tried this Lentil Stuffed Peppers recipe or any other recipe on BalancingBowls, please let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to see more tasty meals and anything else I’m up to.
Lentil Stuffed Peppers
- 6 bell peppers halved and seeds removed
- 1 cup cooked rice can use quinoa, barley, or farro
- 1 cup cooked lentils can use canned
- 1 cup low-moisture mozzarella cheese shredded (¼ cup mixed in and ¼ cup on top)
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 can 14.5 oz diced tomatoes
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- 1 onion diced
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil chopped
- ¼ cup fresh parsley chopped
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- In a large pot, cook the rice according to the package instructions. In a separate pot, cook the lentils according to package instructions.
- In a large skillet, sauté the onion over medium heat until it becomes translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
- Add the cooked rice, cooked lentils, diced tomatoes (with their juices), ¼ cup of shredded mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, black pepper, salt, oregano, thyme, basil, and parsley to a bowl. Mix in the sauteed vegetables until well combined.
- Slice the peppers in half and scoop out the seeds and white membranes. I like to keep the steam intact, if give you a larger well to scoop the filling and it just looks nice.
- Place the bell pepper halves in a baking dish. Fill each half with the lentil mixture, using a spoon to pack it in tightly. Top each pepper half with the remaining ¼ cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the peppers are tender and the cheese is melted and lightly browned.