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With the holidays over, it’s time to get back to healthy weeknight cooking – in particular, easy, healthy dinners. Chicken Stuffed Pepper Boats tick off all the boxes. A delicious, healthy, one-dish dinner that’s great for busy days.
Chicken Stuffed Pepper Boats – A Weeknight Classic for All The Right Reasons
When I was a kid, stuffed pepper boats made regular appearances on our family dinner table. It’s easy to see why.
The combination of meat, rice, and cheese piled into a roasted green pepper meant Mom was feeding us something from all four major food groups in one dish. Making sure kids ate protein, grains, dairy, and vegetables was a nutritional “best practice” back in the day, so Mom had to feel good about that.
Besides being a nutritious, one-dish dinner, I’m sure my mom loved the fact that stuffed peppers were pretty easy to prepare and that everybody loved them. As a working, single mother of four daughters, she didn’t have time to spend hours in the kitchen at the end of the workday.
My kids are grown and gone, but I’m still working. At the end of every workday, I still have to make dinner.
Every. Single. Day.
So, it makes sense that stuffed peppers are on the regular menu rotation at our house, too. Because this classic from my childhood is still an easy, delicious, one-dish dinner that everybody loves.
However, nutrition guidelines have changed since back in the day. And so has my palate. That’s why I’ve given this comforting, classic weeknight dinner recipe an update.
Chicken Stuffed Pepper Boats – Easy, Healthy Dinners
My updated version of the classic stuffed peppers begins with the meat. I replaced ground beef with lean ground chicken. If you prefer, ground turkey would work well here, too.
And I stretched the meat by adding more vegetables to the stuffing. The onion and tomato add yummy flavors as well as fiber. But there are still four ounces of chicken in each serving, so this is still a savory, hearty, and satisfying dinner.
Mom’s version of this dish included lots and lots of cheddar cheese. It tasted great, no question about that. But it had a lot of fat. (Remember that orange oil slick that used to drip off stuffed peppers when we were kids?)
Still, cheese is one of my favorite things, and these chicken stuffed pepper boats did need some fat – just not quite as much. For me, the solution was to reduce the amount of cheese but use something far more flavorful than cheddar.
Replacing cheddar with good quality, nutty-tasting parmesan does the trick. It adds so much flavor that you really don’t need a lot of it. Pecorino or even Gruyere would also be a good choice.
Finally, my Chicken Stuffed Pepper Boats include a generous amount of fresh basil, just enough garlic, and plenty of spices. That really kicks the flavors up a few notches.
It all adds up to a tasty, healthier version of a classic weeknight dinner that my husband and I really enjoy. I think your family will, too.
Give these Chicken Stuffed Pepper Boats a try soon for one of your easy, healthy dinners!Print
- 2 large green bell peppers, sliced in half and seeded (can sub 4 small whole peppers, tops cut off and seeded)
- 3 T olive oil, divided (1 to roast peppers, 2 for onions)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 lb ground chicken
- 1 cup canned diced tomato, drained
- 1 cup cooked rice (white or brown)
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 T tomato paste
- 2 T water
- 2 oz grated parmesan (save some for garnish)
- 10–12 large basil leaves, sliced into thin ribbons or chopped fine (save some for garnish)
- Kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pour about half a tablespoon of oil into the center of each half green pepper. Brush or rub each pepper with oil inside and out, then sprinkle with a bit of the salt and pepper. Place prepared pepper boats onto a baking sheet, cut side up. Roast in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
- While the peppers are roasting, prepare the stuffing. Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 5-7 minutes, until onions are soft, translucent, and beginning to turn golden brown. Lower heat slightly and add garlic. Cook for additional minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add ground chicken to pan. Using a wooden spoon to break into small pieces while cooking, until now pink remains.
- Turn the heat to low. Add diced tomato, cooked rice, Italian seasoning, basil, tomato paste, water to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes, until ingredients are heated through and liquid has evaporated.
- Stir in cheese (be sure to leave a little out for garnish). Taste stuffing and add salt and pepper if needed.
- Divide the chicken stuffing among the roasted peppers, filling each pepper boat with a generous mound of stuffing. Sprinkle a little cheese on top of each pepper boat. Return baking pan to oven for a minute or two, to melt cheese.
- Remove pan from oven. Sprinkle a bit of basil on each stuffed pepper boast. Serve immediately or cover baking pan with foil, store in refrigerator, and reheat to enjoy later. Will keep in refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.