Italian-style stuffed peppers are like a low-carb lasagna recipe prepared in their own dish. These Lasagna Stuffed Peppers are a delicious mix of ground beef, orzo & tomato sauce, all stuffed into tri-color peppers. A hearty dinner ready in 45! Low carb and gluten-free options available.
During the course of my normal day of hunting around the internet for interesting food blogs and health articles, I kept seeing delicious looking stuffed peppers containing mostly ground beef and rice mixtures. I wasn't really in a rice frame of mind, more an Italian mood, so decided to think up something with pasta that I could put in a pepper.
I love all things Italian, and my favorite has to be lasagna. Well, maybe its pizza, no, maybe it's my tortellini skillet - oh well, you get the idea. I'm an Italian food fanatic! In any case, I decided to try stuffing the peppers with lasagna. Now you know, those big fat lasagna noodles just don't fit into a pepper (duh!), so I decided to go with orzo to satisfy my pasta craving.
The filling is easy to make too. Just toss together the orzo with pasta sauce, cheese and ground beef. I also added some zucchini and tomatoes to up the vegetable count! What you get is one great tasting and healthy dinner that's all wrapped up inside some sweet peppers.
- Substitute spinach for the zucchini or double up on the greens or add both.
- Change out the orzo for quinia, zoodles or even spaghetti squash making it a great low carb or gluten-free option. If you're not worried about carbs, try using rice.
- Don't like bell peppers, just put the filling into a casserole dish, top with cheese and bake.
Frequently asked questions
Do I have to parboil the peppers?
It's not absolutely necessary but the peppers will not soften much during the normal cooking process. They will remain very crunchy.
Can I meal prep these in advance?
Yep! These can easily be made the day before and refrigerated. Just add some extra time to the baking to make sure they warm through.
For meal prep, do I freeze this dish before or after cooking?
Either way is acceptable. I like to cook my stuffed pepper lasagna before freezing. You can wrap the entire casserole in foil then in plastic wrap or freeze each stuffed pepper individually. When reheating, you can reheat from frozen in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until thawed and warm. You can also allow them to thaw in the refrigerator to cut cooking time. If freezing prior to cooking, make sure the ingredients, such as beef and orzo, have been cooked thoroughly, then freeze. Reheat as stated previously, it will just take a little longer.
How long will these peppers last in my freezer?
You can freeze these up to 3 months and probably a little longer. They never last that long in my house.
Can I make these lasagna bell peppers in my slow cooker?
Sure can! Spray your slow cooker with non-stick spray. Stuff the peppers raw, no par-boiling needed, as directed in recipe, leaving off the final topping of cheese. Place upright in slow cooker and cook on low for 3-½ to 4 hours. In last 15 minutes, top with cheese and cook another 10-15 minutes.
Gather your ingredients. Not only will it make preparation easier but you will not find out in the middle of a recipe that you're missing one of the ingredients.
Preparing the ground beef-orzo-ricotta filling
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. (photo 1)
- Break up the ground beef into the skillet. (photo 2)
- Add the herbs and spices then cook until meat is browned and cooked through. (photo 3)
- In a large bowl, combine cooked orzo, ricotta, half of the mozzarella, zucchini and tomatoes. (photo 4)
- Add spaghetti sauce. (photo 5)
- Stir to combine. (photo 6)
Preparing the peppers and stuffing them
- Wash the peppers then cut the tops off. Remove the membrane and seeds. (photo 1)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and drop in the peppers. Parboil for 5 minutes. This extra time will make the peppers the right softness after baking. Remove from the pan, turn upside down, and let them drain. (photo 2)
- Place peppers into a greased baking dish. Here's a tip for you. If the peppers won't stand upright, trim a little off the bottom, still leaving bottom intact then stuff with the beef-orzo mixture. (photo 3)
- Sprinkle the tops with Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese. (photo 4)
Finish by baking for 25 minutes. It comes out beautifully browned, cheesy and with all the flavors of your favorite lasagna. I just love that browned cheese! You can even put the dish right under the broiler at the end and get it a little browner.
An easy dinner for the entire family on the table in 45 minutes. I like to serve it with a side of Caesar salad and a loaf of crusty French Bread for a filling and delicious meal. Oh, and if you happen to have some left over, it tastes just as good the second time around! Enjoy!
More easy stuffed dinner recipes
Taco Stuffed Peppers are the best low carb way to get your taco fiz!
Lasagna Stuffed Spaghetti Squash is a lighter version of these lasagna bell peppers and even easier to make.
Margherita Zucchini Boats for the zucchini lover in you! A delicious side, a vegetarian main dish or even an appetizer.
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Italian Stuffed Peppers with Ground Beef
- 6 large bell peppers, red, yellow or orange
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup onion, chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1 Tablespoon basil
- 1 Tablespoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup uncooked orzo, cooked according to package directions (quinoa or zoodles for gluten-free)
- ½ cup ricotta cheese
- 8 oz mozzarella shredded
- ½ zucchini diced
- 3 tomatoes diced
- 2 cups favorite pasta sauce
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese grated (or Pecorino Romano)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a rectangular baking dish that will hold all the peppers by spraying with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Wash the peppers then cut the tops off. Remove the membrane and seeds. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, drop in the peppers and parboil for 5 minutes. Remove and turn upside down to drain.
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil and saute onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Add ground beef and spices and cook until meat is brown and cooked through.
- Drain meat and pour into large bowl. Add cooked orzo, ricotta, half of the mozzarella, zuchini, tomatoes and spaghetti sauce. Stir to combine.
- Stuff peppers and place in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the tops with Parmesan cheese and remaining mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for 25 minutes. Serve hot alongside some warm crusty bread.
- Instead of beef - use ground chicken, turkey, pork or Italian sausage
- More Veggies - try adding corn, mushrooms, spinach, kale either in place of zucchini or in addition to it
- Change out the orzo - for quinoa, rice, couscous, barley, riced cauliflower or farrow
- Cheeses - use your favorite cheeses such as fontina, pepper jack or sharp cheddar (a little less Italian but still delicious)
- Like it spicy? - add red pepper flakes
- Don't like bell peppers? Just prepare the filling, cooking some diced peppers (optional) in with the onion and garlic, browning the ground beef, then adding to orzo-cheese mixture. Pour into a casserole dish that has been coated with non-stick spray and bake as directed in recipe.
- Keto Stuffed Peppers – change out the orzo for riced cauliflower and you have the perfect keto meal. To make it lower carb, switch the sweet bell peppers to green bell peppers.
- Low Carb Stuffed Peppers – follow much the same swaps as keto stuffed peppers. You can also lower the carb count by opting for cream cheese, cottage cheese, goat cheese or spinach and artichoke dip in lieu of the ricotta cheese
This post has been updated with step-by-step instructions and new photos. It was first published on February 15, 2015.