Stuffed bell peppers with Italian risotto, mixed veggies and topped with delicious tomato sauce. The stuffing is creamy and rich, filling and flavourful. Prepare in advance for an easy weeknight dinner you can pop in the oven and have ready in no time.
This recipe was originally published in March 2019. It has been updated for content and photos.
We love stuffed peppers, and this Italian version holds a special place in my heart. It’s actually my mom’s family recipe that I’ve veganized, and has her stamp of approval!
Making risotto the ‘old fashioned’ way is a bit of a process, but I promise it’s worth it. That said, if you’re looking for a short cut, and you’ve got an Instant Pot, you can also make the filling following this risotto recipe, instead.
How to make it
(This is a summary with step by step photos, full recipe measurements and instructions are in the recipe card below.)
Gather your ingredients.
To the bottom of an oven safe dish, add half of the tomato sauce with a ¼ cup of water to thin it out. (photo 1)
Then slice off the stems and carefully remove the seeds and membranes from your bell peppers and place them hollow side up in your dish. Set aside. (photo 2)
Melt the butter (if using) and add your chopped onion to a large skillet and sauté until softened, approx. 2-3 minutes. (photo 3)
Add the Arborio rice and garlic powder to the pan and stir, toasting for about 30-60 seconds. (photos 4-5)
Then add the wine, stirring often until mostly absorbed. (photo 6)
Now, slowly begin adding your broth. Add around half a cup of broth to your pan, at a time. (photos 7-8)
Stir often, until the broth is absorbed, and then add more, and repeat. (photo 9)
NOTE: Continue adding the broth until you’ve used up all 3 cups, approx. half a cup at a time, until absorbed, and then add more. Do NOT dump all the broth into the pan.
When you add your last portion of broth, also add the veggies. (photo 10)
Stir often, until the broth is absorbed, and your risotto is cooked. (photos 11-12)
NOTE: Taste for salt and pepper and add, if needed. If using a flavourful broth, you shouldn’t need any.
Divide your filling among your four peppers, and gently stuff and press it down. You want them really full. Then use the remaining sauce to top each one. (photos 13-14)
Bake your Italian stuffed peppers for 30-45 minutes (depending on how crisp you like your peppers) and then remove from the oven. (photo 15)
NOTE: Use parchment paper and foil to cover your peppers, but remove the paper and foil 5 minutes before your peppers are ready if you’d like to brown the tops.
Use the extra sauce at the bottom of your dish for serving. You may also garnish with vegan parmesan cheese, fresh basil or parsley and red pepper flakes, if desired.
You may keep leftovers refrigerated in a sealed container for 2-3 days, and reheat in the oven or toaster oven.
To freeze, place the peppers in an air tight, freezer safe container and freeze for up to 3 months.
Although you may use any of your favourite rice varieties for stuffed peppers, risotto is traditionally made with Arborio rice as it provides the creamiest texture. That said, if you’re avoiding white rice you may sub for brown rice, as I’ve done in this brown rice risotto.
Yes and no. Do NOT dump all the broth in, but you don’t need to measure out half a cup each time, either. Use a large ladle and add a scoop at a time, or use a half cup measuring cup if you have one.
Yes, you may fully prepare and stuff your peppers and then freeze before baking. If baking from frozen, add an additional 10-15 minutes of bake time.
- Use care when hollowing out your bell peppers. You don’t want them to break, or the stuffing won’t hold.
- Make sure to salt your peppers inside and out, before stuffing them, otherwise you’ll have a flavourful filling but bland shell.
- Use a salty, flavourful broth to make your risotto for best results.
- Don’t dump all the broth into your pan at once. The slower method of cooking risotto is a tried and true technique which will yield the best results for your Italian stuffed peppers.
- For no oil, sauté the onions in a tablespoon or two of broth.
- For wine free, use an additional half cup of broth in replacement. But follow the same cooking directions.
More veganized classic Italian dishes
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- 1 cup tomato sauce or tomato puree of choice, divided
- ¼ cup water
- 4 large bell peppers any colour
- 1 tablespoon vegan margarine or butter optional, use broth to sauté for oil free
- ½ yellow onion diced
- ¾ cup Arborio rice
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ cup white wine optional but recommended
- 2 cups mixed frozen veggies I like green bean, corn, peas + carrot mixture
- 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- salt + pepper to taste
For Garnish (optional)
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese
- fresh parsley or basil
- red pepper flakes
- Add ½ cup of your tomato sauce with ¼ cup of water to the bottom of a baking dish to accommodate your 4 peppers. You want a diluted sauce layer at the bottom of your dish. Then slice the tops off your peppers and carefully scoop out the seeds and membranes. Sprinkle the peppers with salt inside and out and place them hollow side up in your dish. Set aside.
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F convection bake.
- Heat a large skillet and melt the butter, if using. Add the onions and sauté over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes until softened. Then add the Arborio rice and the garlic powder, mix well and toast for about 30-60 seconds, stirring often.
- Add the wine, if using and stirring often, cook until the wine has completely absorbed, approx. 2 minutes.
- Now add your broth, approx. ½ cup at a time, stirring often until mostly absorbed. Continue adding another ½ cup of broth each time the previous batch is absorbed. Repeat until all the broth is consumed, adding your mixed veggies with the last portion of broth. This process will take about 20-25 minutes. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper, if needed.
- Divide the vegetable risotto between your 4 peppers, pushing down the mixture into each one. Cover with parchment paper, and then foil and bake for 30-45 minutes, removing the paper for the last 5 minutes or so, if you'd like to brown your peppers. (Use 30 minutes total bake time for crisp peppers and 45 minutes for soft peppers.)
- Use the extra sauce at the bottom of your baking dish for serving. You may also garnish with fresh basil or parsley, parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes.