Do You Have To Cook The Filling For Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers?

Stuffed peppers are typically stuffed with meat and cheese, two ingredients that help to balance the vegetable frame. But the vehicle of a bell pepper can hold just about any filling — be it hearty grains, like brown rice or quinoa, tofu, minced vegetables, or even lentils and chickpeas (via Masterclass). Each ingredient opens up possibilities for rich and diverse flavor profiles, like curried chickpea filling or garlic and soy sauce tofu scramble.

Whether you're an experienced vegan or vegetarian, or just want to incorporate more vegetarian dishes in your weekly rotation, meatless stuffed bell peppers work well as a substantial meal or a guest-pleasing appetizer. In fact, one of the best parts of making vegetarian stuffed peppers would be the pleasure of not handling raw meat. But does this mean that we can fill our peppers with raw grains, beans, and vegetables and throw them in the oven? Sadly, no – but there is a proper way to make the vegetarian stuffed peppers just as good as their meaty counterparts, if not better.

Cook the filling before putting them in the peppers

Although there's no raw meat in your vegetarian stuffed peppers, you still have to cook the filling separately. This is especially important when working with grains and beans, which take much longer to cook than the bell pepper can bear. If you skip this crucial step, you'd be left with hard grains clumped together in a charred bell pepper. If you're adamant about not cooking your grains, use leftover rice you have in the fridge, making sure to add a bit of moisture back into the rice.

This same rule applies for raw vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, cabbage, and onion. Although they might cook in roughly the same amount of time as bell peppers, they would cook unevenly throughout the mixture. Furthermore,  as vegetables cook, they tend to let out excess liquid, which can make the filling watery and bland, per Cooking with Coit. Don't let this step dissuade you from having a meatless stuffed pepper. A quick sauté of your vegetable filling would make your stuffed pepper more flavorful, while giving them the best texture. If you want to add tofu, the same rules apply: You must press and scramble your tofu to rid it of any excess liquid before putting it in your bell peppers (via Vegetarian Mamma). You can try making our quinoa stuffed peppers, which start off with a cooked quinoa and vegetable base, keeping the stuffed pepper tender and fluffy throughout.