Chile Stuffed Baby Bell Pepper Appetizers
I have a recipe that I am so excited to share with you. Each new season it has been fun for me to find an appetizer that can be my go to dish when we have company over. Last year I made these Honey Pear Crostinis so many times. They are great, and I am sure I will continue to make them. But this year I wanted to find something a little different. And, oh did I find a good one! These little stuffed baby bell peppers are absolutely incredible. There is so much flavor going on in them!
The thing that attracted me to these in the first place was all of the spices in the filling. I was a little concerned that they would be too hot, but they really aren’t hot at all, or maybe just the least little bit spicy. Sometimes it is hard for me to gauge spiciness because I like spicy things, but I wouldn’t hesitate to serve these to anyone. You may not recognize chipotle chile powder or ancho chile powder, but Mexican spices are becoming very main stream these days. I found them both at my local Fry’s (Kroger’s) grocery store. They also contain poblano peppers (sometimes called pasilla peppers) that add a very subtle yet noticeable presence to the filling. Add in diced Muenster cheese, and cilantro and you have many layers of flavor going on. I just can’t even tell you how much I loved these. Initially, I was going to add a sour cream cilantro sauce over the top, but in the end, I didn’t do it, because I didn’t want to mask any of the ingredients.
These are not difficult to put together. First you just saute the baby bell peppers in a pan until they are nice and soft with some lightly charred spots on the outside of them. I just love the colors of the peppers. They are so cheerful!
Afterwards, you cook your filling mixture and stuff it into the mini bell peppers. I have to give you a heads up. This took time. It just takes awhile to fill such a tiny space. It worked best to use clean hands to do the stuffing. That way you can get as much filling as possible in all of the nooks and crannies.
The great thing is, you can do this the day before, cover them tightly, place in the refrigerator, and bake them the next day.
You could even make the filling a couple of days before that to spread out the process. I love appetizers that you can make ahead of time. It saves time for rushing around like a chicken with my head cut off on the day I am having company over! 🙂 I’m telling you, though, these are worth every second of the time it takes to make them.
There is something about the bright colors of this appetizer that makes them so inviting. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did. I probably should say I did. Jeff really liked them, but he doesn’t get quite as excited about food as I do. That is why I bring this recipe to you. We understand each other! You understand the complete bliss of finding a recipe that was everything you hoped it would be, that you know will make for years to come, that you can tell will put a smile on the face of your guests, or just delights you from that very first bite and every bite after that. Thanks for being my foodie friend. I appreciate you! 🙂
Chile Stuffed Baby Bell Pepper Appetizer
- 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound assorted baby bell peppers (about 24)
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1 poblano chile pepper (sometimes called pasilla peppers), finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp. ancho chile powder
- 1 tsp. chipotle chile powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 lb. ground pork (I used sweet Italian pork sausage)
- 1/4 c finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 3 ounces Muenster cheese, diced (about 3/4 cup)
- Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the baby bell peppers in a single layer and cook, turning, until the skins blister and start browning, about 8-12 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
- Without cleaning skillet, add the onion, poblano, cumin, oregano, ancho and chipotle chile powders, and 1 tsp. salt to the skillet. Cook, stirring until the onion and poblano are almost tender, about 6 minutes. Add in the pork. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon into small pieces, until no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Add in the minced garlic, and cook a couple of minutes more stirring every 30 seconds or so, making sure the garlic doesn’t get too brown. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Meanwhile, make a slit in each baby bell pepper with a small, serrated knife, cutting from stem to tip.
- When meat is cool, stir in cilantro and diced cheese.
- Stuff 2 to 3 tsp. of the meat mixture into each pepper using your fingers or a small spoon; transfer to a greased or lined cookie sheet. (At this point you can cover tightly, and place in refrigerator until the next day if desired.
- When ready to serve, preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Bake until the peppers are hot and the cheese melts, about 5 to 8 minutes, watching carefully so they don’t get too brown.
- Refrigerate any leftovers.
Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, originally found in Food Network Magazine, May 2014, page 145