This Freezer-Friendly Mexican Stuffed Peppers Recipe is one of my most freezer friendly recipes, bursting with flavor as well as three(!) different protein sources: ground turkey, quinoa, and black beans. Stuffed peppers remind me of my grandma, who makes an amazing traditional version with rice and hamburger meat (covered in a sauce with ketchup and brown sugar) but I love this re-vamped version that is a complete and balanced meal.
It's really important to me (and my budget) that I eat a homecooked meal every night. But, I don't always have time to cook something from scratch. These peppers make eating a homecooked and delicious meal possible because they freeze so well. They're also tasty, travel well for lunch, easily adaptable for almost any dietary restrictions, and work with flexible ingredients. I can't think of a better Millennial Menu item! At the end of this post, you can read more about how to freeze these so you'll always have a few on hand for dinner during a busy week.
I always have a few of these on hand in my freezer ready for busy weeks when I won't have time to cook but still want to eat a healthy, delicious, and filling dinner. What is your go-to dinner on a busy night?
Freezer Friendly Mexican Stuffed Peppers Recipe
Makes 4-5 large peppers
Other recipes with these ingredients: Black beans & cilantro: Fish tacos // Ground turkey & Quinoa: Quinoa Stuffed Baked Tomatoes // Quinoa: add to salad for lunch, Mediterranean Quinoa Bowls with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
I'll be doing Millennial Menu posts of similar recipes to those linked here very soon, but for now, here are some ideas of how to use up ingredients!
- 4-5 large bell peppers
FOR THE FILLING
- 1/3 cup quinoa Subtsitute: farro, rice, etc.
- Splash of olive oil
- 1 lb. ground turkey - Substitute: ground chicken, ground beef
- 1/2 packet of fajita/taco seasoning
- 1 can diced tomatoes - Optional canned diced tomatoes work, I've also used canned tomato sauce before and that is also tasty. You could use fresh tomatoes, but I prefer the canned because the added juice makes the filling more flavorful._
- 1 small can corn - Optional You could use fresh corn as well, but that raises the cost.
- 1/2 can black beans Optional
- Salt and pepper
ADDED AFTER COOKING
- Shredded Mexican cheese Optional
- Sour cream Optional
- Cilantro Very Optional
Dairy Free: Don't add sour cream & cheese at the end.
Vegetarian: Leave out the turkey and just use quinoa and veggies in your filling.
Vegan: Dairy Free + Vegetarian
Already Gluten Free
GET YOUR GAME FACE ON
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. This is always the first thing you should do if you're cooking with the oven!
2. Assemble all your ingredients and the necessary kitchen tools:
- Cutting board
- A small sauce pan to cook the quinoa in
- A frying pan to cook the ground turkey in
- Spatula to cook the ground turkey with
- Mixing bowl
- Spoon to scoop the filling into the peppers
- Oven-safe pan for the peppers (pie plates work great or 8x8 pans that have edges the peppers can lean up against)
PREP THE PANS YOU'LL USE & THE PEPPERS
3. Turn one burner on high. Add 2/3 cup of water to the sauce pan. Add in 1/3 c. dry quinoa. [Important Ratio: 1:3 dry quinoa:cooked quinoa, 1:2 quinoa:water]. Read more about how to cook quinoa. Now you have to wait for the quinoa to boil, at which point you'll turn down the heat and let it sit and cook for 15 minutes, but...while you're waiting for the quinoa to boil...
4. Turn on another burner on medium and place the frying pan on it. Let the frying pan heat up on the stove for a minute. While this is heating up...
5. You want to core your bell peppers with a knife so that they're hollow and you can fill them with your turkey and quinoa filling. It's nice to get this out of the way so you're not overwhelmed trying to do this while your raw meat is cooking. Need help? Watch Martha Stewart core a pepper.
COOK THE QUINOA & TURKEY
6. Add a splash of canola oil to the frying pan that was heating up, enough to lightly coat the entire bottom of the pan. Wait 30 seconds or so for the oil to het up a bit, and add your 1 pound of ground turkey to the pan. Move it around with a spoon or spatula - this is called browning. Sprinkle the 1/2 packet of taco seasoning as it cooks, continuing to move the turkey around and mix in the seasoning with the spatula. It should take about 5-8 minutes for the turkey to cook. When it's done, it should be entirely brownish-grey, with no pink.
7. Once the quinoa comes to a boil, turn down the heat to low and cover the pot. Let the quinoa sit and cook for 15 minutes.
MIX IT ALL TOGETHER
8. Mix together the cooked turkey and cooked quinoa in a mixing bowl.
9. Add 1 can of corn, 1/2 can of beans, and 1 can of tomatoes to the bowl. Use a spoon to mix everything together.
10. Smell it! Does it smell like you want more taco spice? Add it now if you do!
11. Add in salt and pepper, to taste.
STUFF THE PEPPERS
12. Spoon the filling into the peppers, filling each pepper to the top.
13. Place on a pan to cook in the oven. A pie plate or 8x8 pan with edges works to keep the peppers upright.
14. Cook for approximately 30 minutes on 350°F. Since your meat isn't raw, you can cook for as long or short as you want. Just cook until the peppers are as soft as you want them to be in order to eat them. You can poke them with your finger to see how soft they are.
15. Take your peppers out of the oven when the pepper is soft enough to eat (about 30 minutes on 350°F).
16. Top with shredded cheese, sour cream, and cilantro.
Lunch tomorrow, Storing, & Extra Ingredients
LUNCH TOMORROW - Pack these in a Tupperware for lunch with the sour cream on the side. Cut in half to make microwaving quicker.
STORING - The peppers will keep for about 3 days in the fridge. But, they're practically MEANT for freezing! Especially because the recipe makes 4 - you can eat one, bring one for lunch the next day, and still have TWO dinners for later always ready to go in the freezer. Once they come out of the oven, I let them cool a bit before popping them in the freezer (on the dish you cooked them in is fine). Let them freeze overnight before storing for the long term. I didn't take the time to let them freezer overnight the first few times I made these (I just plopped them in a bag still hot), but it's worth it. Allowing them to harden overnight means they'll be more likely to retain their shape and flavor, and they won't leak juices all over the bag you're going to store them in. The next day, you're ready to bag the peppers to store them in your freezer for the long term. If you're smart, you've read Why Every Millennial Needs a FoodSaver and can use your Food Saver to vacuum seal the peppers for storing in the freezer. If not, add it to your Christmas list and store in freezer Ziplock bags. It's always good to label and date your freezer food. The peppers will last indefinitely at 0°F in the freezer, but for best taste and flavor, eat them within 3-4 months.
EXTRA INGREDIENTS - You'll have half a can of black beans left. These freeze wonderfully and can go into so many recipes. Use a FoodSaver or place in a ziplock bag, label and date, and freeze! You can also use them in a fish taco bowl, taco soup, or added to a salad for lunch or breakfast scramble with eggs. The shredded cheese and sour cream will last for weeks in the fridge and are great ingredients for healthy multigrain nachos as a snack. The best way to store cilantro is in a drinking glass with a bit of water in it, and place it in the fridge with a plastic bag over the top. You can use it for other Mexican-inspired dishes, like in a fish taco or breakfast burrito.