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Stuffed Peppers with Tomato + Basil Pesto

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
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Why we love it:

Stuffed peppers with a rice and tomato filling are an old school classic that have stuck around for a reason - it tastes great. Our version is veggie heavy, but feel free to add meat if that’s appealing to you. We’re serving it here with a pesto sauce but you could swap that out to save time.


  • 12 cup Basmati Rice (White)
  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt (divided)
  • 4 Green Bell Peppers
  • 12 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 12 Red Onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 teaspoon Unsalted Butter
  • 1 ear Corn
  • 1 15-ounce can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 cup Gruyere (grated, about 4 ounces)
  • 1 head Butter Lettuce (red leaf or something pretty!)
  • 112 bunches Basil
  • 3 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
  • 12 cup Parmesan Cheese (grated)
  • 2 cloves Garlic

Cooking Instructions

  • 2. RICE

    Combine ½ cup rice, 1 cup water, and ½ teaspoon of salt in a small pot over high heat. Bring it to a boil, then stir it well and turn down to low heat and cover tightly. If your smallest pot doesn’t have a lid, you can usually use a small plate to cover it. Steam for 16 minutes.

  • 3. PEPPERS

    Cut the peppers in half, directly through the stem. Lay them flat, cut side up on a lined baking sheet or in a 9x13 inch casserole dish. Drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle with about ½ teaspoon of salt. Place in the oven for 10 minutes while you prep the filling.

  • 4. FILLING

    Thinly slice the onion. Thinly slice or dice the carrot. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat and add a teaspoon butter. Add the onion and carrot.

    Shuck the corn and remove the kernels from the cob and add them to the pan. Add the tomatoes and a ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook for 5 minutes or so until it thickens up just a bit.

    If the rice is done at this time, proceed with the stuffing, but if it needs more time, skip down to pesto and prepare that while waiting for the rice.


    When the rice is done, turn it out into a large bowl. Scrape in the veggies and tomato mixture. Add 1 cup gruyere cheese (if you are using cheese), and reserve some for topping. Combine evenly with a large spatula. Use a ¼ cup measuring cup to evenly divide the filling into the pepper. It’s helpful to also use a teaspoon to press the filling deep into the corners of the peppers. Mound extra filling to stay in the pepper.

    If using, sprinkle tops with remaining gruyere cheese.

    Bake in the oven for 6 minutes until everything is hot and the cheese is melted and golden.

  • 6. LETTUCE

    If you’d prefer, use your own dressing. To make it simple, whisk ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Whisk in 1 teaspoon of olive oil.

    Tear the lettuce and wash it well. Then dry it well in a spinner or between clean towels. Toss dry lettuce in the dressing to coat.

  • 7. PESTO

    Remove the basil leaves and tender stems from the bunch. Run under water and shake most of the excess off. Tear or chop once or twice into smaller pieces.

    In a blender or food processor, place the 3 Tablespoons pine nuts. Add ½ cup parmesan cheese (reserving just a teaspoon for garnish if you’d like), 2 cloves garlic and ½ teaspoon of salt, then pulse until finely ground, about 1 minute. Add the basil and with the motor running, add oil in a slow and steady stream until pesto is mostly smooth, with just a few flecks of green, about 1 minute.

    Taste the pesto and consider adding another pinch of salt or a ¼ teaspoon of cider vinegar. Add the vinegar if it seems flat or needs a boost.

  • 8. PLATING

    Serve peppers on a plate with a dollop of pesto on top or beside each. Serve with the salad.

Check out our new features!


    omit cheese
    use goat cheese or feta in the filling and a little garnished on top
  • PALEO:
    omit rice and cheese, consider adding ground turkey
  • RICE:
    use lentils, quinoa, bulgur, brown rice or cauliflower rice. Or, omit entirely, especially if adding meat, or consider adding more carrots or corn to help fill up each pepper
    while sautéing the onions, add 1 pound ground beef, fresh sausage, or ground turkey to the pan
    use 1/2 cup frozen corn
    this method works with endless variations of fillings for all seasons. Feel free to use whatever you have on hand from the farmer’s market. Add olives, capers, roasted peppers, or nuts. Any cheese you have on hand will be great. Serve with hummus or yogurt sauce instead of pesto. Use any color pepper, or even put the stuffing into a zucchini, tomato, winter squash, or eggplant!

Kid Friendly Version

How to Tweak This Recipe for Kids:

  • Kids may prefer the components deconstructed and not stuffed in the peppers. Keep pesto on the side for dipping and tasting.

Prep Ahead & Use It Up

  1. Make the rice ahead (or use leftover rice, this is a great way to use it!)
  2. Make the pesto ahead (lasts for 1 week in the fridge and if it turns darker green, that’s ok)
  3. If you have time, you can make the stuffed peppers completely ahead and just heat to serve. They also freeze well before or after the final bake – this is a great dish to double, freeze and eat again later
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