Lean protein packed ground bison stuffed peppers are filled with rice, shredded zucchini, carrots, onion and tomato sauce for a deliciously hearty meal with a melted cheesy topping. A healthier alternative to beef and an easy meal to make!
The whole while I was making these bison stuffed peppers I was thinking back to these cheesy mushroom stuffed peppers from my first year of blogging.
I had just gotten my first DSLR camera, was “teaching” myself how to use it and vividly remember taking those pictures and thinking they were BOMB.
Oh my gosh, how laughable.
Best part is, a blogger friend at the time who was also an artist was running a competition and she offered to paint the winning photograph. I’m pretty sure I submitted the first photograph in that post and somehow….it won.
She never sent the painting but I can’t say I’ve been too bothered by that over the years.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD STUFFED PEPPER?
We never ate stuffed peppers growing up. Sausage and peppers were a regular skillet meal but mom never stuffed them.
So, it’s sort of weird to me I have such strong opinions on how a stuffed pepper recipe should be made.
Firstly, I have major issues when the pepper itself is still crunchy and undercooked.
The peppers must be soft and cooked through in a good stuffed pepper recipe!
This is one of the reasons that I like making poblano stuffed peppers as they’re a great pepper to work with.
Secondly, the filling better not be dry!
This is gonna sound gross, but I like my stuffed pepper filling to be wet.
That usually means using tomato sauce to go along with the meat (in this case bison) and rice to keep things moist. A dry crumbly filling is just no bueno, you know?
Third of all, the ratio of meat to “filler” has to be balanced.
This goes for whatever “filler ingredient” you use: white rice, brown rice, farro, wheat berries, etc.
Similar to a breadcrumb heavy crab cake, the filler can’t overpower the meat in stuffed peppers. There should be enough to bind the filling together but the meat should still be the star of the show.
And lastly, cheese.
Most mix in parmesan cheese to the filling directly and while I like that approach when making meatballs, I prefer a nice melted cheese topping in this situation. I used a goat’s milk cheddar on top of these bison stuffed peppers. These Philly cheesesteak stuffed peppers offer a nice piece of melted provolone which is also delicious.
SHORTCUTS AND SUBSTITUTIONS FOR MAKING BISON STUFFED PEPPERS
If you want to take the prep time down a bit, here are a few suggestions:
Use pre-cooked rice.
This can be leftover rice from another meal or one of those microwave convenience bags. The recipe calls for dried rice and walks you through cooking it in the directions so just skip that part if you’re using cooked rice.
Use a food processor to grate/chop the onion, zucchini and carrot.
Make quick work of vegetable prep by using the food processor. You can either use the shredding attachment or just the regular blade for more of a minced approach. It doesn’t matter.
Use dry rosemary or another herb.
Fresh is always nice if you have it. But, if you don’t or don’t want to be bothered with chopping another thing, just use dried.
If you don’t like rosemary, just swap it out for an herb you do like. Thyme, oregano or basil are all great options, fresh or dried.
Substitute another ground meat.
If you don’t have bison, you can use ground beef for the most similar taste. Even ground chicken, turkey or pork will work too though.
Skip the zucchini.
I like adding “secret” vegetables to recipes for added nutrition. The grated zucchini sort of melts into the bison filling in this and can’t even be detected.
That said, if you don’t have it, just skip it! Or, sub it out for a yellow summer squash, some cooked eggplant or even some extra carrot.
I’ve been loving ground bison lately in place of beef. Over the last couple years, bison has become a lot more commonplace in the grocery store. And not just specialty stores like Whole Foods but even regular grocery stores.
Bison and beef are very similar in many ways but the two main differences come down to fat content and farming methods.
Bison is leaner than beef (and therefore lower in calories) making it a great option for those looking for less saturated fat in their diets.
More importantly to me, however, is the typical farming methods of beef vs. bison. Most bison you find in the store will say grass-fed/pasture-raised. While with beef that’s something you have to seek out, it’s almost the norm when it comes to bison.
In fact, that grass-fed, pastured diet is probably what explains the difference in leanness between the two red meats.
Organic, grass-fed and pasture raised meat is always something that’s important to me but having just finished reading the book, Eating Animals (very enlightening and I personally think a must read for anyone that consumes meat in this country) it’s even more front of mind right now.
I find bison to be a touch more tender and delicate tasting than beef and I like its subtly in these bison stuffed peppers.
The filling is hearty without being overly “meaty” if that makes sense.
Love this bison stuffed pepper recipe? Try these too:
Spinach sausage and ricotta stuffed peppers
Cheesy Chicken Stuffed Eggplant
Bruschetta Hummus Stuffed Zucchini
Black Garlic Cheese and Turkey Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Cheddar Stuffed Turkey Zucchini Meatballs
Bison Stuffed Peppers
- 1/2 cup dry white rice
- 1 cup water
- 12 ounces ground bison
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 4 medium bell peppers halved and seeded
- 1 large carrot grated
- 1 small zucchini grated
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary + extra for garnish
- salt and pepper to taste
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Place peppers in a baking dish with about 1/2" water on the bottom. Bake peppers for 10 minutes then remove and set aside.
- Combine rice and water to a small sauce pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until water is absorbed. (*see note)
- While rice cooks, place olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bison to the pan, breaking up into small pieces until browned. Drain most of the excess liquid from the skillet then return to heat.
- Add the onions, carrot and zucchini and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper to the skillet and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add cooked rice to the skillet, stir to combine then add the tomato sauce. Turn off heat and stir to thoroughly combine filling.
- Spoon bison mixture into the halved peppers. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, sprinkle grated cheddar cheese on top of each pepper and return to oven for about 5 minutes until cheese is just melted.
- Serve warm and garnish with extra minced rosemary if desired.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.
Gina Matsoukas is the writer, founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.