These Pearled Couscous Stuffed Peppers can be served as an easy and delicious meatless main course, or a side dish. With spinach, white beans, parmesan, and a drizzle of lemon-chive vinaigrette they’re a satisfying vegetarian alternative to the classic ground meat and rice stuffing.
As much as I love snowy days snuggled up with hot chocolate, warm fires, and ultra-cozy headbands that somebody in this house likes to steal, I have been ecstatic to trade it all in for polo dresses, sandals, and dinners on the patio.
Not to mention all the fresh produce. Say hello to prime farmer’s market season, friends!
In the spirit of the warmer weather (it’s been a gorgeous 80 degrees in New Jersey), I made one of my favorite weeknight meals this past week: Pearled Couscous Stuffed Peppers.
I fill sweet, roasted pepper halves with toasted pearled couscous, baby spinach, parmesan cheese, and creamy cannellini beans. Topped with a little extra parmesan and a quick lemon-chive vinaigrette, this is the perfect dinner to enjoy al fresco with a cold iced tea or glass of your favorite white wine.
Any bell pepper variety can be used in this dish, but I like to use red, orange, and yellow the best for their sweetness.
The color of a bell pepper is determined by how long it is allowed to ripen on the vine before harvesting. Green bell peppers are harvested first, before fully ripened, and are the least sweet of the bunch. Red bell peppers are allowed to ripen the longest and are generally the sweetest, with yellow and orange falling in the middle.
If you’d like to read a little bit more, this short article from Kitchn talks about bell pepper varieties, including how it all plays into prices for the consumer. Use whatever peppers look best at your market, and you and your family like best!
Making couscous stuffed peppers couldn’t be easier. Since the filling is fully-cooked on the stove and doesn’t need much time in the oven, I like to pre-roast the pepper halves before stuffing. Then, I just pop the filled peppers back in the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese and heat it all through.
I usually prepare the couscous filling while the peppers are roasting, but you could certainly make the filling ahead and refrigerate, gently reheating before stuffing the peppers.
Make sure you don’t skip the lemon-chive vinaigrette when serving! A little drizzle of vinaigrette over the top brings a wonderful brightness to the savory flavors of the filling and really takes these peppers to the next level. Like the filling, the vinaigrette can also be made ahead, making this a perfect option for a busy weeknight.
In just over 30 minutes, you can have a beautiful, vibrant, healthy dish on the table for your family and friends. No one will believe how simple it was to make!
Love stuffed peppers? Don’t miss these recipes from some of my favorite food blogs:
Spiced Pork Stuffed Hatch Chile (The Flavor Bender)
Mini Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers (Mid-Life Croissant)
Cheesy Turkey Stuffed Peppers (A Cookie Named Desire)
Best Stuffed Peppers Recipe (Ciao Florentina)
Pearled Couscous Stuffed Peppers
These pearled couscous stuffed peppers are a great option for a weeknight dinner, but are also elegant enough for guests. The filling and vinaigrette can be prepped a day ahead; store both, covered in the refrigerator. Gently reheat the filling before stuffing and baking the peppers as directed. Bring the vinaigrette to room temperature before serving.
- 4 bell peppers, sliced in half lengthwise, stems and seeds removed
- 1 cup pearled (Israeli) couscous
- 1-1/4 cups water
- 2 shallots, minced (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 ounces baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 15 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon finely-grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Make the peppers
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss peppers with 2 tablespoons olive oil, a few pinches of salt, and black pepper. Roast, cut sides up, for 15-20 minutes, until softened.
While peppers are roasting, prepare the couscous. Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a pot until shimmering. Add couscous, and cook, stirring, for about 2-3 minutes, until pearls begin to toast. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, water, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 8-10 minutes, until water is absorbed and couscous is tender. (Alternately, follow the cooking directions as provided for the brand of couscous you buy.)
While couscous is simmering, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add shallots, and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add baby spinach and 1/2 teaspoon each of kosher salt and pepper. Stir until spinach is wilted and tender, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir cooked couscous into spinach mixture, followed by 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano. Gently fold in cannellini beans. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Drain any accumulated juices from the roasted peppers and fill each half with couscous mixture, mounding slightly, and pressing gently to pack. Sprinkle peppers with remaining Parmigiano Reggiano, and return to the oven to bake until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.
Whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons chopped chives. Season vinaigrette to taste with a few pinches of salt and pepper.
Drizzle vinaigrette over peppers and serve.