Vegnesday: Chicken and Rice Stuffed Peppers

The flavor of fajitas is concentrated in these healthy stuffed peppers, which are a meal in and of themselves.  I recently came into a wealth of bell peppers (seriously, I used four for this recipe, gave away three this weekend, and I still have six to figure out another use for) and stuffed peppers was the first thing on my mind.  These use chicken thighs – in my opinion the very best part of the chicken to go into recipes (I’m a hard-core dark meat lover) – and a zesty assortment of spices, cheese, and citrus to make you feel like you’re eating a sumptuous Mexican-inspired feast in the comfort of your own home, but, crucially, without as many calories as fajitas at a restaurant.  Muchas gracias to the Food Network for the original recipe.

If you have other ideas for what to do with bell peppers, they’d be much appreciated.  If all else fails, I’ll just stick toss them in olive oil, salt, and pepper and char them on the grill (similar to when I made my Grilled Yellow Peppers & Lemons), but it’s rainy here in Seoul so we haven’t reached optimal grill weather quite yet.  I also love eating them raw (particularly yellow peppers, which are my favorite), but I’d like to stretch my cooking muscles a little and see what kind of creative things I can make with this bounty.

Yield:  8 servings        Total Time:  45 minutes (25 active)

Stuffed 5

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large white onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican blend or extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • Juice of 1 large lime
  • 4 medium bell peppers, halved through the stem and seeds removed (an assortment of colors is the prettiest, but use what you have)
  • 1/2 cup guacamole, homemade or storebought (optional)

Stuffed 2

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Cover a large baking sheet with foil and evenly space the cut pepper halves in two rows.
  • Combine the chicken, chili powder, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of pepper in a large bowl and toss to coat.
  • Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it just starts to brown.  Add the chicken and cook, undisturbed, for about 2 minutes.  Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until the onions are tender, about 3 minutes more.
  • Transfer the chicken and onion mixture to a large bowl.  Add the rice, half of the cheese, half the lime juice, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and few grinds of pepper to the chicken and toss to combine.  Divide the filling among the peppers.
  • Transfer the stuffed peppers to the oven and bake until the filling is hot and the peppers are softened, about 20 minutes.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheese over the peppers and bake until melted, about 3 minutes more.
  • (Optional)  While the peppers are baking, make guacamole by mixing a few mashed avocados, some minced onion, cherry tomatoes, lime juice, salt, garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin to taste.

Stuffed 3

  • Drizzle the remaining lime juice over the peppers.  Serve immediately with the guacamole, sour cream, or pico de gallo, if desired.

Stuffed 6

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