Mexican Cauliflower Rice Stuffed Peppers (Vegan and Gluten Free!)

When you think of stuffed peppers what comes to mind? If you’re like me, stuffed peppers weren’t one of your favorite dinners growing up. Although I always loved vegetables (yes, I was that kid), something about vegetables being stuffed with other ingredients never appealed to me. My fiancé is in agreement, and when I told him I was trying a stuffed pepper recipe he let me know his thoughts. His issue with stuffed peppers has always been about the texture, chiming in to say that something about the texture of roasted peppers never really went well with the rice/meat filling. I have to agree, but I wanted to see if I could change up a few things to make stuffed peppers more appetizing, satisfying and of course, healthy!

I looked through my fridge, freezer, and pantry to see what I could add or change to the standard stuffed pepper and found a few things. First, instead of rice, I’m using cauliflower rice (cauliflower cut up into little pieces that resembles rice). What I love about cauliflower rice is that its much lighter in texture and less dense than regular rice, so it doesn’t lead to that bloated, heavy feeling that can sometimes happen after eating rice (nothing against rice though, I love it on its own). I’m also a big fan of adding more veggies to meals in general. I used Whole Foods Market frozen cauliflower rice for this dish (found in the frozen section).

In addition to changing things up a bit with the cauli-rice, I also decided to give this dish a Mexican flavor by using taco seasoning and ingredients that are in my favorite Mexican dishes. Instead of using ground beef or a meat alternative (like impossible/beyond meat), I stuck to the basics and used black beans. Black beans are a good source of fiber and whole, unprocessed plant-based protein. For color and texture, I added corn, chopped mushrooms, onions, and zucchini. Using several different vegetables makes this dish an excellent source of antioxidants and chock-full of fiber which leads to better overall health. To give these peppers some flavor, I used my favorite taco seasoning along with tomato paste. Tomato paste can be very acidic on its own, so I always like to water mine down with 1-2 tbsp. of water. For even more flavor, feel free to add jalapeños or your favorite spicy pepper. Some like it hot, but I’m not one of those people, so I opted to not use anything too spicy in this dish. I topped the peppers with Daiya plant-based cheese, but if you’re not a fan, you can skip this step. You can always add (or omit) whatever ingredients you like. After these came out of the oven, Tom (my fiancé) was actually excited to try them, which was surprising, considering his apprehension towards stuffed peppers in general. We both loved them and I have a feeling I’ll be making this dish more often. They taste great with a side of tortilla chips & salsa, or with fresh veggies & guac. Let me know if you try the recipe and what you think.

Mexican Cauliflower Rice Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 large bell peppers
  • 2 cups frozen cauliflower rice
  • 2 oz (about 3/4 cup) chopped mushrooms (I like portobellos)
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion (I only had red onion available, but yellow or white onions would also work)
  • 1 cup rinsed, drained canned black beans
  • 1/2 cup fresh, frozen, or canned corn
  • 2 tsp. taco seasoning (I love Siete Foods brand taco seasoning)
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste + 2 tbsp. water
  • olive oil (for the pans)
  • cheese of your choice (I used Daiya brand shredded cheddar)

Directions:

  • Heat up the cauliflower rice in the microwave or stove so that it is lightly cooked
  • Remove the cauliflower rice from the microwave or stove and place with the other ingredients
  • Cut the tops off the bell peppers. Don’t worry if some of the seeds get inside, you can rinse the insides
  • Set the peppers aside for a little later
  • Preheat the oven for 370 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Cut up the remaining veggies, and gather the other ingredients (beans, corn, spices, tomato paste)
  • In in large, oiled skillet or pan, heat the chopped veggies, beans, and cauliflower rice together
  • Add the taco seasoning, tomato paste and water
  • Allow to cook for about 10 minutes on low-medium heat, stir frequently
  • Grab your bell peppers, and scoop a large portion of the veggie, cauli-rice, bean mixture into each pepper
  • Top with cheese
  • Place in an oven-safe dish or pan
  • Bake @ 370 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes
  • Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and enjoy

-Jess

2 thoughts on “Mexican Cauliflower Rice Stuffed Peppers (Vegan and Gluten Free!)

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