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No longer do you have to slave over a hot oven for hours to get seriously delicious stuffed peppers! All you need is a pressure cooker and 10 minutes! These Pressure Cooker Mexican Stuffed Peppers are easy, heart healthy and delicious!
Growing up stuffed peppers were a staple in my house. Since we had a huge garden Mom would grow rows upon rows of peppers – green ones, never the good kind like red, orange or yellow. (I hate green ones). It’s a personal thing – to me they taste more bitter or it could simply just be my inner 7-year old acting up because I hated them then so I must hate them now. Anyway, we’d pick our peppers (and now I’m literally citing ‘peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers’ over and over in my head.. nice – and you’re welcome for it being stuck in your head now too). Yeah.. as I was saying, we’d pick the peppers and Mom would set at the kitchen table with 3-4 large roasters set up ready to do their magic. She would stuff pepper after pepper after pepper. There was one point she had so many we couldn’t give them away! Now where Mom’s Stuffed Peppers and mine differ is I love adding tomatoes into mine. They add such a rich flavor to filling plus seriously, all those healthy benefits are a huge bonus for me! Tomatoes fit into my lifestyle perfectly – I want deliciousness and healthy!
Tomatoes are heart healthy. Tomatoes are low in calories, high in fiber, and have many nutrients that are good for your overall health, including: lycopene, folate, potassium and vitamins A, B, C, and E. So what’s that all mean? Lycopene is a natural occurring chemical that gives the tomatoes their red color. It’s a powerful antioxidant that, studies have shown, can help prevent cells from being damage. Additionally it’s been shown that it can help lower cholesterol.
For me growing up this was extremely important. My bus stop was pretty far from my house so my Dad would drive me to and from the bus stop daily. However one spring day when I got off the bus, Dad wasn’t there. I walked home and when I went into the house there sat my Mom, eyes all swollen and red. You could tell she had been crying hard. That’s when she told me – Dad had suffered a massive heart attack. I was 13 years old and I stood there speechless – confused, scared to cry. How could this happen? Dad was a Super Hero. Nothing could touch him. But it did. Dad didn’t exactly lead a healthy life – smoker and overweight but none the less he was my dad and Dad’s are well, our own Supermen. I didn’t quite understand all that happened but what I did understand was that changes needed to be made to his diet and lifestyle. Thankfully God answered our prayers and gave Dad a second chance and he lived another 9 years. While that doesn’t sound like a lot as God knows I’d give anything to have him here with me, I never for one took advantage of a day I got to have him in my life after that.
With that Dad gave up smoking and started eating healthier, more heart healthy. Now Mom, she was beside herself trying to health-“ify” everything. She’d read all of the literature Dad would get from the heart surgeons on foods he should/should not eat and Mom would tweak her recipes. Thankfully we had our gardens with tons of fresh veggies, like those peppers and tons of tomatoes. I swear there was a time she made stuffed peppers every day for like 3 weeks because we had that many. Truth me told it took me decades before I’d eat them – even without the pepper. Like I said, she only made hers with green peppers. It wasn’t until I discovered the ‘cool’ peppers that I realized just how awesome stuffed peppers were.
However the downfall of making her stuffed peppers… THEY TOOK FOREVER COOK!!!
Well they “did” take forever the old fashioned way but not anymore! Just 10-12 minutes under pressure followed by a natural release and you have some seriously delicious stuffed peppers! Mom’s stuffed peppers were simple – ground meat, cooked white rice, tomato soup and sauce, chunky onions and some seasoning. Nothing too fancy. The filling was awesome (covered in about 4 cups of ketchup – shush, I’m a ketchup girl). However this recipe, I’m mixing it up a bit and adding some personal touches on it. One is a selfish reason – my tummy is having fits with eating rice now. And 2 I really wanted to incorporate more tomatoes into the mix other than just as a say sauce.
But before I go into the recipe I really can’t stress how happy I am to be a part of this right now. This really holds a personal meaning to me. When I think heart healthy I think of my Dad. Being heart healthy is important and Hunt’s wants to help! Hunt’s is donating $50,000 to the American Heart Association in the support of American Heart Month during the month of February. How incredible is that?! It’s true – Hunt’s Has Heart! Check them out! Plus right now if you use the iBotta app (that I SERIOUSLY LOVE!!!) there is an offer right now of ‘Buy 4 Get $1 off’ Hunt’s! Oh trust me, as soon as that offer showed up in my app I clicked ‘Unlock’ so I could redeem it with purchase! Now if you’re not a member of the TKW iBotta family make sure you sign up and use our code to join the family! rkhavaw
Now as you all know by now I get most of my groceries at my local Super Walmart. It’s clean, the people are friendly and the aisles are easily marked. I never worry about them not having something in stock.
So okay this recipe as I said is a spin on the traditional stuffed pepper. First you’ll notice there’s no rice. Now in the recipe you can use cooked rice if you want. I prefer cauliflower rice only because it’s easy on my stomach. Next you’ll see whole beans, mashed beans, salsa, tomatoes, cilantro… yeah I went South of the Border on you guys. I wanted Mexican. And for the meat you really can use any type – I went with a mixture of ground turkey (white and dark meat).
Another thing you’ll notice about this recipe – no binder. No eggs, no bread crumbs, no cheese. And that’s where you have 2 variations in the recipe. If you make it without a binder (egg or bread crumbs) you’ll have a more looser meat filling; almost crumbly like say a taco filling. It’s amazing and honestly, if you take a cooked pepper with a loose filling, it’s to die for on a salad all chopped up just sayin… But if you add bread crumbs (or like me I went with oats) it keeps it binded together. Since I wanted that tighter texture I added oats in mine but you can totally omit. Now if you add in an egg you most certainly have to add in breadcrumbs or oats.
Depending on the size of your pressure cooker you may have to cook these in 2 batches. My 6qrt pressure cooker held 4 medium sized peppers or 4 huge large ones. My 8 quart one hold 5 huge peppers or 6 medium sized ones. But honestly these cook up a bajillion times faster than the oven so I’m cool going with 2 batches. Any way, when it comes to me I’m old school – just measure it out and then mix it with your hands. If you hate getting your hands dirty you can certainly use a sturdy spoon. Either way just mix until combined. Don’t mix and mix and mix else you risk the meat getting tough.
And if your peppers don’t stand up straight DO NOT slice the bottom of. If one point is larger than the other just take off a sliver but be sure the bottom stays in tact. Then the piece that you cut off, put that down inside the pepper where you just cut it from. You’re just reinforcing it from the inside out. Next just stuff the peppers to where the meat is just slightly mounded over. Pop them in the steamer basket and put the basket down in the pressure cooker. One word of advise with that. If your steamer basket sits up high and if you go to put the lid on your peppers almost touch the lid (or do) you need to create an aluminum foil ring to set down in the pressure cooker and then set the steamer basket on top of that. This allows you to put the steamer basket further down in the container without putting it in the water (do not let it hit the water) and without touching the lid.
10-12 minutes under pressure then you let it do a natural release – let it release for 15 minutes. At that point it’s safe to remove the lid and carefully lift the steamer basket out. Carefully lift out your peppers by using a spoon assist and plating. I personally like to top mine with some more tomato salsa, some chopped cilantro and if I’m feeling in the mood some sour cream (it’s Mexican after all) and a couple of crispy tortilla strips.
Do you have a favorite heart healthy dish?
- 1/2 pound ground turkey, beef or chicken
- 4 -6 bell peppers (medium size), tops cut off and seeds removed
- 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained, rinsed and divided
- 1 cup Hunts Petite Diced Tomatoes
- 1/2 cup salsa *see note
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp pepper
- 3 Tbl cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup onions, chopped
- 1 1/3 cup cauliflower rice *if using rice, cook it first
- 1/3 cup old fashioned oats (*optional – add it if you want a firmer filling texture. Omit for a looser filling)
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbl water
- Add half of the black beans and 2 Tbl of water in a food processor and process til mashed (does not have to be creamy/smooth).
- In a large bowl add the meat, black beans, mashed back beans, 1 cup of the Hunts Petite Diced tomatoes, salsa, cumin, salt, pepper, cilantro, onions, cauliflower rice and optional oats. Mix until combined.
- Stuff the peppers tightly with the mixture. This mixture made 4 large peppers or 6 medium sized ones (*note my pressure cooker only held 4 peppers so I had to make 2 batches).
- Place the peppers in the pressure cooker steamer basket. Add the cup of water to the pressure cooker and set the steamer back down in. Now if your peppers are too high and you cannot put your lid on (do not let the lid touch the peppers), take an 18” long strip of aluminum foil and roll it up to create a ring. Set that down into the pan and then set the steamer basket down on top of the foil. Do not let the basket touch the water. This will allow you to put your steamer basket down deeper in the pot.
- Lock the lid and for larger peppers (thick walled) pressure cook for 12 minutes. For medium sized peppers, pressure cook for 10 minutes. When they are done allow the steam to release naturally (about 15 minutes.
- Once done remove the lid carefully, lift out the steamer basket and plate.
- Top with salsa, sour cream and cilantro.