With Mediterranean ingredients like savory feta, fluffy couscous, smoky harissa paste, and cooked lentils, vegetarian stuffed peppers are a hearty, satisfying main dish.
Stuffed peppers were one of the first dishes I cooked when I moved into my post-college apartment. If you had run into single-girl Jess eating her lunch on the National Mall circa 2006 (I worked in Washington D.C. for most of my 20s), odds were very good that I was eating a stuffed pepper out of Tupperware.
Back then I had probably never tried Harissa paste and my stuffed peppers were far more classic. Actually, I think it was “Stuffed Peppers 1” from Cooking Light. (Dug that one up thanks to the time capsule that is the internet.) My interest in different flavors has come a long way since then, but my love for stuffed peppers remains the same (as evidenced by several different versions of stuffed peppers on my site, including these vegan Vegetable and Rice Stuffed Peppers and these Mexican Stuffed Peppers). I've even branched out into Stuffed Tomatoes.
What You’ll Love About Stuffed Peppers
These vegetarian stuffed peppers are one of the best meals to make if you’re cooking for one, for a crowd, for small appetites, or big ones. You can literally make as few or as many as you need and the leftovers are even better than the original. Serve them with a dollop of sour cream and some pita chips for scooping up filling and you’re done. They are:
- Make-Ahead Friendly
- Good for a Crowd
- Great for Leftovers
What is Harissa Paste?
Harissa is a roasted red pepper paste that is commonly used in North African cuisine but is now widely available in the international aisle at many grocery stores. It adds a smoky flavor to any dish and comes in mild or spicy.
If you’ve never tried Harissa paste, you’re in for a treat! It is smoky and has a hint of roasted, naturally sweet flavor from red peppers. We keep the mild variety in the refrigerator and use it for any meal that needs a little kick. I stir it into soups, add it to pasta sauce, use it to top omelets, and combine it with yogurt for a dip.
I buy the Mina Mild Harissa which is mild enough for my kids.
Substitute for Harissa Paste
A great substitute for Harissa Paste is salsa. Though the flavor profile is different (keep in mind that salsa may contain spices like cumin and coriander), the consistency, variation in spice level, and savory flavor are similar. If you can find a roasted red pepper salsa, that will come even closer to the flavor of Harissa paste.
It’s also fairly simple to make your own Harissa.
How Long to Roast Stuffed Peppers
A good general rule is to roast stuffed peppers at 400°F / 200°C for 15 minutes without filling and then 15 minutes more after filling has been added. Keep in mind that the thickness of the skins on stuffed peppers can vary. Peppers with thinner skins will cook more quickly and those with thicker skins will take longer.
This also assumes that the filling you’re using has been pre-cooked. If using raw meat in the filling, the peppers need to be cooked until the meat is cooked all the way through.
More Recipes with Bell Peppers
- Marinated Chickpeas with Bell Peppers and Cucumbers
- Sheet Pan Sausage and Peppers
- Slow Cooker Tex Mex Stuffed Peppers
- Red Pepper Jelly
- Herb and Cheese Stuffed Sweet Peppers
Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers with Couscous and Feta
- Square Baking Dish
- Mixing Bowl
- 4 Red Bell Peppers
- 1 cup Cooked Couscous (cook this according to package directions)
- 1 ½ cups Cooked Lentils (see note)
- 3 Tablespoons Harissa Paste (see note; substitute salsa)
- 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika (substitute regular paprika)
- 1 Tomato, diced
- 2 cloves Garlic, chopped
- 4 ounces Feta Cheese, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon Fresh Lemon Juice
- Fresh Parsley, for topping (optional)
- Plain or Greek Yogurt, for serving
- Preheat oven to 400°F / 200°C.
- Cut the stems and tops off the bell peppers. Scoop out and discard the seeds and membranes. Arrange the bell peppers upright in a baking dish and sprinkle with some salt.
- Bake peppers until they are starting to turn tender, 15 minutes. (The edges should start to brown slightly and tilt inward.)
- While peppers start roasting, combine couscous, lentils, harissa, paprika, tomato, and garlic. Stir well. Gently fold in feta.
- Taste filling and season it with some salt and / or pepper, if needed.
- Fill peppers with couscous-lentil mixture.
- Return filled peppers to oven and continue baking until filling is heated and peppers are soft, 15 to 25 minutes more (this will vary depending on the thickness of the bell peppers).
- Squeeze lemon juice over finished peppers and top with fresh parsley.
- Serve stuffed peppers warm with yogurt for topping.
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