I’ve been a big fan of stuffing peppers for years but I’ve always worked with large bell peppers. They are great for dinner and always pretty when serving to guests but those peppers are so big that it’s hard to finish one stuffed pepper! There’s always some leftover that go in the garbage. I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that mini peppers were the answer! Mini peppers have similar flavor to regular-sized bell peppers but they are definitely sweeter. Who doesn’t love things that are sweeter?!?! I certainly love any foods that are naturally sweetened so I don’t have to add any sugar or honey to them. I made a whole meal out of these mini peppers by stuffing them with sautéed and spiced ground meat and serving them with lemony steamed artichokes and a creamy spinach pesto.

So many recipes, so little time! Let’s start with the pesto, which will literally take you 1 minute to make. I placed the spinach, basil, garlic, pine nuts, lemon juice and salt in a food processor and blended until smooth. With the blender running, I slowly drizzled in the olive oil until the pesto reached the smooth texture I wanted. The more olive oil you add, the thinner your pesto will be. You can refrigerate the pesto for up to one week. I like to put this pesto on eggs in the morning.

Next up comes the artichokes! I cut off the stems of the artichokes then sliced off the tips with a serrated knife. If the edges of the leaves are sharp, you can cut those off with sharp scissors. I added the artichokes to a medium pot and squeezed the lemon over the top. I added the squeezed lemon, bay leaf and water to the pot, brought the mixture to a boil then covered the pot and reduced the heat to low. I simmered the artichokes for 30 minutes, until the centers were fork-tender, then I removed the artichokes from the pot.

While the artichokes were simmering, I preheated the oven to 375 degrees F and lined a baking sheet with parchment paper. I heated a saucepan over medium-high heat with olive oil then added the onions and carrots and cooked them for 5 minutes, until translucent. I added the ground meat, thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper to the pan and stirred until the meat was cooked through, around 5-8 more minutes. I sliced the tops off of the mini peppers and scooped out the seeds. I stuffed the cooked meat mixture into the mini peppers with a small spoon and placed them on the parchment lined baking sheet. I drizzled the peppers with olive oil and sprinkled them with salt and pepper. I cooked the peppers for 30 minutes, until soft and browning on top.

Plating time! Don’t you just love plating a beautiful, colorful and healthful meal then watching everyone devour it and tell you how good it is?!? A few ground meat stuffed mini peppers on every plate with a flavorful steamed artichoke and a little bowl of spinach pesto dip. Perfecto!

Just a little Instagram for ya!

Spinach Pesto
 
Ingredients
  • 5 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions
  1. Place the spinach, basil, garlic, pine nuts, lemon juice and salt in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. With the blender running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the pesto reaches the smooth texture you. The more olive oil you add, the thinner your pesto will be.
  3. You can refrigerate the pesto for up to one week.

Steamed Artichokes
 
Ingredients
  • 4 small artichokes
  • 1 lemon, sliced in half
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup water

Instructions
  1. Cut off the stems of the artichokes then slice off the tips with a serrated knife. If the edges of the leaves are sharp, you can cut those off with sharp scissors.
  2. Add the artichokes to a medium pot and squeeze the lemon over the top.
  3. Add the squeezed lemon, bay leaf and water to the pot, bring the mixture to a boil then cover the pot and reduce the heat to low.
  4. Simmer the artichokes for 30 minutes, until the centers are fork-tender, then remove them from the pot.

Ground Meat Stuffed Mini Peppers
 
Serves: makes 2 dozen stuffed mini peppers

Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil + extra for roasting peppers
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 lb. ground meat
  • 1 tsp ground thyme
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 dozen mini peppers

Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat with olive oil then add the onions and carrots and cook them for 5 minutes, until translucent.
  3. Add the ground meat, thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper to the pan and stir until the meat is cooked through, around 5-8 more minutes.
  4. Slice the tops off of the mini peppers and scoop out the seeds.
  5. Stuff the cooked meat mixture into the mini peppers with a small spoon and place them on the parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. Drizzle the peppers with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Cook the peppers for 30 minutes, until soft and browning on top.