Stuffed peppers like mom used to make, but these are vegan! These roasted bell peppers are filled with an Italian-spiced mix of lentils and rice, and topped with zesty marinara sauce. The perfect meal when you’re looking for some healthy comfort food!
Stuffed peppers were a regular when I was growing up. They were usually filled with ground meat and rice, and served with tomato sauce — I’m guessing a lot of you guys ate pretty much the same thing when you were kids.
Anyway, one thing I noticed recently is that there are lots of vegan stuffed pepper recipes out there on the interwebs, but most have a twist. There are lots of recipes Tex-Mex stuffed peppers and stuff like that. Even on this site, I have falafel stuffed peppers, risotto stuffed peppers, and burger stuffed peppers, but nothing like the classic stuffed peppers that mom used to make.
I decided it was time for a recipe for good old classic Italian vegan stuffed pepper!
What You’ll Need
- Olive oil. You can substitute another type of high-heat oil, but olive oil will give your peppers the best flavor.
- Vegetable broth. I’m a big fan of Better Than Bouillon in seasoned vegetable flavor.
- Rice. The recipe calls for long grain brown rice. You can substitute another variety, but you might need to adjust the amount of broth and cook time.
- Vegan Worcestershire sauce. Most brands of Worcestershire sauce contain anchovies, so look out! Annie’s, Edward & Sons, and Whole Foods brands are all vegan.
- Spices. You’ll need dried basil, dried thyme, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes.
- Lentils. We’re using dried brown lentils. Green lentils can be substituted, but they’ll take longer to cook, so adjust accordingly. You could also use precooked lentils, in which case you’ll need 2 cups.
- Diced tomatoes. Use canned, packed in juice or sauce.
- Salt & pepper.
- Bell peppers. Any color! Green, red, yellow, or orange!
- Marinara sauce. Feel free to use homemade marinara sauce or store-bough.
- Fresh herbs. Sprinkle your finished peppers with some basil or parsley.
How to Make Vegan Stuffed Peppers
The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!
- Heat up some olive oil in a pot, then add diced onion. Cook it until it begins to soften up, for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook it with the onion until it becomes very fragrant.
- Stir in your broth, rice, Worcestershire sauce, and spices. Crank up the the heat and bring your broth to a boil.
- Lower the heat and cover the pot. Let the rice simmer for a while. No peeking! Rice cooks best when it’s undisturbed. Tip: Use a pot with a clear lid so you can keep an eye on your rice without removing the lid. Cook your lentils while the rice boils.
- Let your pot sit with the lid on for 5 minutes after removing it from the burner, then take it off and stir in your lentils, tomatoes, salt and pepper.
- While the rice and lentils cook, start roasting your peppers. Cut the top off of each pepper, scoop out the insides, and rub it with olive oil. Stick your peppers in a pan and pop them in the oven to start cooking.
Assembling the Vegan Stuffed Peppers
- When your peppers are almost fully cooked, take the pan out of the oven, add some marinara sauce to the bottom, then stuff your peppers with the filling.
- Top each pepper with a spoonful of sauce, and stick everything back into the oven for a few more minutes.
- Top your peppers with some fresh herbs, and dig in!
Leftovers & Storage
Leftover stuffed peppers will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for about 3 days, or in the freezer for about 3 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can! Green lentils would work great, though they will take a bit longer to cook. Red lentils fall apart and get super mushy when you cook them, so your filling will have a totally different texture, but I think it would still be good!
More Bell Pepper Recipes
- Vegan Stuffed Pepper Soup
- Eggplant Cacciatore
- Roasted Red Pepper Soup
- Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
- Vegan Sausage & Pepper Ragu with Creamy Polenta
Italian Vegan Stuffed Peppers
For the Filling
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ cups vegetable broth
- ¾ cup long grain brown rice
- 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
- ¾ cups dried brown lentils*
- 1 (14 ounce or 400 gram) can diced tomatoes
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Peppers
- 4 large bell peppers, any color
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 ½ cups marinara sauce, homemade or jarred
- Fresh parsley or basil, for serving, optional
- Begin by making the filling. Coat the bottom of a medium pot with olive oil and place it over medium heat.
- When the oil is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent.
- Add the garlic and cook it for about 1 minute, until very fragrant.
- Stir in the broth, rice, Worcestershire sauce, basil, thyme, fennel, and red pepper flakes. Raise the heat and bring the liquid to a boil.
- Lower the heat until the liquid is just simmering. Cover the pot and allow the rice to simmer for about 40 minutes, until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed.
- While the rice cooks, place the lentils in a small saucepan and cover them with a few inches of water.
- Place the pot over high heat and bring the water to a boil.
- Lower the heat and allow the water to boil until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. You can add more water during cooking if too much of it dries up.
- While the rice and lentils simmer, begin preparing the peppers. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Cut the top off of each pepper, removing the stem, then use your hands to scoop out the seeds and core.
- Rub the outside of each pepper with olive oil, then place the peppers, cut side up, in a 9 x 9 inch baking dish.
- Place the dish into the oven and bake the peppers until the skin just starts to blister, about 25 minutes.
- When the lentils are done cooking, drain them in a colander and return them to the pot.
- When the rice has finished cooking, allow the pot to sit with the lid on for 5 minutes.
- Remove the lid from the rice and stir in the lentils and tomatoes. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
- When the peppers have finished baking, remove the dish from the oven, but leave the oven on.
- Spoon 2 cups of marinara sauce into the bottom of the pan, surrounding the peppers.
- Spoon the filling into the peppers, mounding some on top if necessary.
- Top each pepper with a spoonful of sauce.
- Return the dish to the oven and bake the peppers for about 10 minutes more, until the sauce and fillings are hot.
- Sprinkle with fresh basil or parsley, and divide the peppers onto plates. Serve.
A note on serving size: this recipe makes 8 servings, but just 4 stuffed peppers. I initially intended it to be a 4 serving recipe (1 pepper per serving), but a half of a pepper plus salad left both my husband and I pretty full. If you’ve got a big appetite and/or aren’t making any side dishes, this might be a 4 serving recipe for you. You may also be able to use smaller peppers and get 6 servings (1 pepper each).