Turkey Parmesan Stuffed Peppers

turkey parmesan stuffed peppers in a baking dish

Everyone loves stuffed bell peppers. 

Or, everyone thinks they do until they dig into an unseasoned, watery vegetable filled with dry, overcooked beef.

There might be a suggestion of tomato sauce inside, or an overwhelming amount of cheese. But there is never a big, bold flavor statement where there so easily could be.

So I set out to develop a recipe for the best stuffed peppers with ground turkey and tomato sauce— one that finally lived up to expectation. I decided to go with turkey stuffed peppers rather than beef, because that’s what I had on hand at the time. Plus, ground turkey opens up so many more possibilities for flavor combinations than ground beef.

I got all of my best tools ready: I planned to dice and deep-fry, I imagined breadcrumbs and butter, I prepped piles of shredded cheese. Then, I got lazy.

And that’s when I struck gold.

How to make turkey parmesan stuffed peppers

Turns out, tomato sauce, ground meat, and cheese are the only things you need to make excellent stuffed peppers, you just have to treat them better than that dude who always brings them to game day.

The key to making healthy stuffed peppers with ground turkey is to treat both the inside and the outside of the stuffed peppers as equally important parts of the meal. The pepper is not just the venue for the stuffing, it’s the opening act.

Start by rubbing down cleaned, halved bell peppers with good olive oil until they shine like new silverware. Season them lightly with salt and pepper.

Do you have to cook meat before stuffing peppers?

I prefer to cook the meat before stuffing peppers, as it helps some of the moisture cook off and ensures that your stuffed peppers won’t become watery.

So, cook up ground turkey with plenty of salt and spices, then drench it in tomato sauce (Go for the jarred stuff! Live dangerously!) and toss it with well-seasoned rice or quinoa. You can put whatever you like in your stuffed peppers, just make sure there is some sort of ground meat, something starchy (rice, quinoa, breadcrumbs), and something saucy (marinara is classic). Stuffed peppers with ground turkey and quinoa makes something that, in my mind at least, is healthy enough to enjoy leftovers all week, but cheesy enough to actually make you excited about dinner.

To finish off the filling, throw in a couple of dashes of good red wine vinegar (or other acid) until it tastes so irresistible you start wondering if you should just eat it out of the pan and forget the whole stuffed pepper thing.

But it’s about to get so much better.

A bit of time in the oven (while you have a seat and read that magazine from last November) sweetens and softens the peppers. They hold their shape but surrender easily to the side of a fork. The stuffing tumbles onto your plate in a juicy, tomato-y mess.

Dinner is served, in a glistening, edible box.

More comfort food dinner ideas:

Turkey Parmesan Stuffed Peppers

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
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Dinner American
By Samantha Serves: 4
Prep Time: 35 minutes Cooking Time: 35 minutes Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Make this for Sunday dinner to enjoy leftovers all week. Stuffed with well-seasoned ground turkey, marinara sauce, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, these melty mozzarella-topped peppers are just as healthy as they are delicious.

Ingredients

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 of an onion, minced (about 1/2 a cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced or pressed
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • Salt
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 24-ounce jar marinara sauce
  • 1 ½ cups cooked quinoa or rice (about ½ cup dry)
  • ½ cup coarsely grated parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 tsp red wine vinegar, to taste
  • 3 bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella or provolone

Instructions

1

Set the oven to 400°F. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook about 3 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and cook another minute or so, until fragrant. Add ground turkey and use the back of your spoon to smash it into pieces. Season with salt, the granulated garlic, oregano, parsley, and cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until turkey is mostly cooked through.

2

Add 1 ½ cups of the marinara sauce sauce, mix well, and simmer for about 3 minutes, until the turkey is completely cooked through. Turn off heat, stir in cooked quinoa, parmesan cheese and 2 tsp red wine vinegar. Taste, add more vinegar if it needs to be punchier, more salt if it needs to be saltier.

3

Season the bell peppers with a bit of olive oil and salt. Spread remaining marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Arrange bell peppers on top of the sauce in the baking dish. Spoon some of the turkey mixture into each pepper half, there is plenty of it so be generous, and top each with a heaping spoonful of the mozzarella cheese.

4

Cover baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly, the cheese has melted and the peppers are tender.

Nutrition

  • 367 Calories

Notes

I would suggest a red wine with ripe fruit flavors such as a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Zinfandel. These types of wines will pair nicely with the bell pepper’s subtle tang and earthiness and the stuffing’s savory richness.

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    chefboyrdee
    October 3, 2018 at 9:11 am

    5 stars
    OMG, I love this. Haven’t had a good one since I was a kid

  • Reply
    Harold
    October 3, 2018 at 10:09 am

    5 stars
    These look so good, I can’t wait to make them. The photos are amazing!

  • Reply
    Linda
    October 3, 2018 at 10:44 am

    5 stars
    I only have 3 letters for this gloriously simple meal: WOW.

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