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Hey everyone!  I’ve been meaning to put up this recipe for Lentil Stuffed Peppers for a while now but just never got to it.  I made this about a week ago when I add some peppers to use up.  I am always looking for new ideas for stuffed peppers.  As I was thinking of various things I could do with these peppers I came up with an idea of stuffing them with lentils!  I chose to go with a Mediterranean inspriation for these peppers.  I really enjoy the flavors of the Mediterranean and these peppers feel very Mediterranean with all the lemon  in them!   I really like lemon, I just can’t get enough of it and it really brings these peppers to the next level!

This recipe is a great nutritious way to use lentils.  The ingredients you can put into these stuffed peppers are endless.  I chose vegetables that I had on hand that day but you can certainly use any vegetable you like or have on hand. I also added a panko topping to these peppers, I just think it adds something special to them.  Serve these peppers as a main course with a salad and some toasted bread or as a side dish! 

Mediterranean Inspired Lentil Stuffed Peppers

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1 cup of lentils (I used plain old brown lentils, but you can use any lentils you have on hand)
4 Bell Peppers
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 stalk of celery, cut into small pieces
1 small carrot , cut into small pieces
1 small zucchini, cut into small pieces
2 large tomatoes or 1 14 oz can of tomatoes
2 cups or more spinach chopped or any other leafy green
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon rosemary
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 cup vegetable broth
half a lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Lemon Panko Topping
1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh parsley

In a saucepan add the lentils and about 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. When it is boiling bring the heat down to a simmer. Simmer the lentils for 15 minutes, you don’t want them to go mushy so keep an eye on them. They should still retain their shape. After 15 minutes, drain the lentils and set them aside.

Meanwhile, cut 4 bell peppers in half, take the seeds out but leave the stem intact. Bring a pot of water to a boil. After the water is up to a boil, drop the peppers in the water and blanch them for 3-5 minutes. Immediately add them to a bowl of ice water.

Preheat oven to 375.

In a food processor, pulse the two tomatoes until they are chunky and their juices release. (Skip this step if you are using canned tomatoes) 

Now time for the filling!  Heat a skillet over medium heat with two tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions, carrots and celery and saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant. Now, add the zucchini or any other vegetable you are using. Saute the zucchini for about 2 minutes. Now add the tomatoes, vegetable broth, and herbs. At this time season with salt and pepper. Cook the mixture for a few minutes. Now add the spinach and cook until wilted. Add the lentils and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the parsley and lemon juice. Re-season if necessary.

Lightly oil a casserole dish. Place the peppers in the casserole dish. Now stuff them with the lentil mixture genoursly. Cover them with tin foil and bake them for 25-30 minutes. After 25-30 minutes take the tin foil out and sprinkle the peppers with the topping. Bake uncovered for another 15 minutes until the top is golden brown. That’s it! Let cool for a couple of minutes and serve with plenty of lemon slices!

For the Lemon Panko Topping
Heat a small pan over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the panko bread crumbs and thyme, cook for a few minutes until the panko bread crumbs are well coated. Now add the lemon zest and parsley, Season with salt and pepper. That’s it!