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Friday, July 10, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Dorothy Dean presents: Fiesta bell peppers loaded with flavor

Latin-inspired flavors fill these stuffed bell peppers. (Audrey Alfaro)
Latin-inspired flavors fill these stuffed bell peppers. (Audrey Alfaro)
By Audrey Alfaro For The Spokesman-Review

Any make-ahead meal is a winner in my book. So are the zesty flavors of Mexican cuisine. That made combining the two a no-brainer.

These fiesta stuffed bell peppers are filling, flavorful and can be made up to a day in advance. They’re great for meal planning for a busy week and can also be turned into appetizers by using mini sweet peppers instead.

The bell peppers are loaded with a tasty mixture of ground beef, onions, quinoa, garlic, tomatoes, corn, black beans, cheese and Mexican seasonings, making it a one-dish meal.

A vibrant deviation from typical stuffed bell peppers, these are smoky, piquant, savory and, my favorite part, cheesy.

Also, this is the perfect meal to use up leftovers. You can swap out the ground beef for leftover chicken or steak, use rice instead of quinoa and any extra veggies can also be thrown in. The bell peppers make an excellent vessel for really any filling you can dream up.

These stuffed peppers can be grilled or baked in the oven. To grill, cook until peppers are tender, lightly charred, and filling is warmed through. And when baking them, be sure to add a tad bit of water to your baking dish before covering it with foil. This will create steam that will ensure your peppers cooked soft and tender.

I serve mine topped with avocado slices, a sprinkle of cilantro, diced tomatoes, and a squeeze of lime juice. For some creaminess and spice, add a dollop of sour cream and sliced jalapeños.

However you dress them up, this convenient and delicious weeknight dinner option – and the endless ways to make them – are here for you.

Fiesta Bell Peppers

For the peppers:

1 pound ground beef

1/2 cup cooked quinoa, (optional)

1 onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tomatoes, diced

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup salsa

1/2 cup black beans

1/2 cup corn

1 cup cheddar or pepper jack cheese, shredded

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon oregano

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3 bell peppers, any color, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed

For the topping:

1/2 cup cheddar or pepper jack cheese

1 avocado, sliced

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1 /2 cup tomatoes, diced

Lime wedges

1/4 cup sliced jalapeño peppers, optional

Preheat grill or oven to 375 degrees. If using oven, lightly grease a 9-by-13 baking dish.

Add ground beef and onions to a large pan and cook over medium-high heat until beef is browned and cook thru. Drain off excess fat. Stir in remaining filling ingredients and seasonings until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings to your taste.

Stuff halved peppers with mixture until all peppers are full and sprinkle with cheese. Add a small amount of water to the baking dish, about 1/8 cup, and place in peppers and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove foil and bake for 15-20 minutes more, until peppers are soft and cheese is lightly browned. If grilling, you can place peppers directly on oiled grill and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until peppers are soft and edges are slightly charred.

Serve topped with avocado slices, a sprinkle of cilantro and diced tomatoes, lime wedges and jalapeños, if desired.

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