Southwest-inspired vegetarian stuffed pepper half, on a white plate

Southwest-Inspired Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers Recipe

By Beth Lipton
Reviewed by Ahna Crum, R.D.N.
March 15, 2023

Here’s a weeknight meal that really satisfies. Along with being sweet, colorful, and hearty, bell peppers are rich in nutrients and compounds like flavonoids that may help reduce inflammation. A good source of fiber, the quinoa stuffing packs a powerful inflammation-fighting punch as well. Mix that with onion, tomatoes, black beans, and taco seasoning, and you have a healthy and flavorful Southwest-inspired meal.

There are plenty of ways to customize this recipe to make it work best for you—use a mild taco seasoning or a spicy one, swap in pintos or another type of bean, or go without cheese to make it dairy free. Some people are sensitive to nightshade vegetables like bell peppers and tomatoes. These are nutritious parts of an anti-inflammatory diet for many people, but if you suspect these ingredients might cause flares for you, talk to your doctor or dietitian about substitutions.

This recipe is: gluten free, vegetarian

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Serves 4


  • 4 large bell peppers, any color, halved lengthwise with seeds and ribs removed
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1¾ cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 1 ¼ cups)
  • 1 packet (1.3-ounces, or ¼ cup) taco seasoning (see note)
  • 1 can (14.5-ounces) diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 can black beans (15- to 16-ounces), drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, optional (see note)
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro, optional


Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the peppers cut sides up on the baking sheet.

Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cool water; shake lightly to drain.

Warm 1 teaspoon of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the quinoa and stir until the water has evaporated and the quinoa is lightly toasted, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the broth and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to its lowest setting. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes—without stirring— until the broth has fully absorbed.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Then, uncover and fluff with a fork.

While the quinoa cooks, warm 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are tender, about 6 minutes.

Stir in the taco seasoning and cook until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 1 minute.

Stir in the tomatoes, beans, and 2 cups of the quinoa. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup of the cheese, if using.

Divide the quinoa mixture among the pepper halves. Sprinkle with the remaining cup of cheese, if using.

Then, mist a large sheet of foil lightly with cooking spray and use it to cover the peppers loosely before putting the baking sheet into the oven. Bake until the peppers are tender, 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil. Sprinkle with the cilantro, if using, and serve.


  • If you can, look for a brand of taco seasoning that’s made without preservatives or additives, such as Siete Foods.
  • You’ll have about 1½ cups cooked quinoa left over. Cover it and keep it in the fridge to use for other meals. It will keep for up to 5 days.
  • To make this dish dairy free, you can omit the cheese or use a dairy-free cheese, such as Miyoko’s. Alternatively, you can fold in a few spoonfuls of dairy-free cheese sauce, like the one from Primal Kitchen, and drizzle some on top before serving.

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