southwest inspired stuffed bell peppers

I’ve been making these stuffed bell peppers for years and finally they get their debut on Dahlia Kitchen. I remember them being one of my earliest go-to recipes that I adapted to feed my vegetarian, gluten free, or dairy free friends. However, if you are like me and couldn’t possibly go one meal without some bread (gasp), let me propose a fresh batch of sweet, buttery cornbread to compliment these chili-spiced bell peppers (Deb’s perfect, forever cornbread is on my list of recipes to make asap). This southwest-inspired recipe is highly adaptable and the end result a fun dish that you can whip out when entertaining friends or when you just want to mix up your dinner routine.

serves 6 (two stuffed pepper halves per serving)

3/4 to 1lb ground sausage, uncooked (see note for meat alternatives)*
2-3 tablespoons sausage grease or olive oil (see step 3)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 jalapeños, de-seeded and diced finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 15oz can corn
1 15oz can black beans
4 green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 large red bell peppers
8 oz Cotija cheese, grated**
salt, if needed

toppings (optional): hot sauce, sour cream, avocado


1. Prep: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut your bell peppers in half from stem to bottom. De-seed and trim excess core of the pepper. Set aside.

2. Cook the sausage: Heat a large pan over medium heat. Cook your sausage, stirring occasionally and breaking it up into small bite sized pieces. When fully cooked, spoon out of the pan and set aside. Leave any sausage drippings in the pan for the next step.

3. Cook the vegetables: Heat the same large pan over medium heat. Saute the yellow onion in any leftover sausage grease and if needed, supplement or substitute 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Saute until the onion is softened, approximately 6-8 min. Add jalapeños and garlic and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini, corn, black beans, and green onion and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, mix in the chili powder, smoked paprika, cayenne, and black pepper. Finally, stir in the cooked sausage.

4. Stuff the peppers: Remove the pan from heat and stir in the grated Cotija cheese. Taste the mixture and see if it needs any additional salt (both sausage and cotija can be quite salty). Stuff the bell pepper halves firmly with veggie mix. Depending on the size of your bell peppers, you might have a little extra filling. This is great added to scrambled eggs, or eaten as is.

5. Bake: Bake your peppers with the flat size up for approximately 25 min, or until the filling and the edges of the peppers start to brown. Serve warm as is, or with any of the suggested toppings.

*I’ve tried this with multiple types of ground sausage and my favorite, before giving up red meat, was ground pork chorizo. Now I use ground turkey sausage. You can also substitute diced tofu or diced tempeh, or leave the “meat” out all together. If you don’t add any meat/tofu/tempeh, I suggest adding an extra can of beans and/or corn.

**substitute vegan cheese to make the recipe dairy free, or omit the cheese

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