Noodle-Less Lasagna Stuffed Bell Peppers

Noodle-Less Lasagna Stuffed Bell Peppers

Octavian had a little ice cream social (I mean, ice cream party) at his school earlier this evening. His teachers were there, his bffs and their parents, and marshmallows.

Octavian, already past the point of no return (parents, you know the point i'm referring to) was like one of those little wind up toys that, once fully wound, bobble around in aimless circles, darting, weaving, going going going.

Until they stop.

Some children stop and want to sleep, some get grumpy, and then there are some children who think it's a good idea to drop their pants and poop in the sandbox.

This was my child.

The moment I saw another mother come running up to me and one of Octavian's teachers I knew it was my child. The second I heard her say, "poop" I knew it was game over for my little family of three.

You guys, words don't even begin to express the mortification. I seriously thought about turning around, tagging my husband and screaming NOT IT! But I didn't. Instead, I did what any other push-over parent would do- I let his teachers handle it. And they did, so much better than I ever could because my child literally walks all over me.

No seriously. When I said to him today, I'm the boss. You're not the boss. His response was, No mama! I'm the boss of you!

Thankfully, my child goes to the most amazing preschool with the most patient, forgiving and loving teachers on this planet. They are getting a big gift (wine) from me on Monday.

Toddler poop stories aside, I made dinner!

So, as I've mentioned before, traditional lasagna isn't my thing. Too many noodles, not enough veggies. It's just not for me. Don't get me wrong, I'll happily eat a plate of hot cheesy lasagna and love it, but it probably wouldn't be my first choice. So whenever I find myself in the mood for something resembling lasagna, I usually make a dish with half zucchini noodles, half lasagna noodles, some ground turkey and loads of veggies.

Well, then I started thinking...bell peppers. I'm totally gonna stuff those bad boys. Why? Because stuffed bell peppers are FUN and stuffed lasagna bell peppers are the BEST. Plus, they're practically carb free, so if that's your thing then, you are very welcome :)

Despite the lengthy ingredient list, these bell peppers are super easy to make (especially if you use pre-made sauce). They are also just as yummy warmed up 2-3 days later, so you can totally make a big batch of these and feed the fam for the week.

If you're a noodle lover, you can absolutely add lasagna noodles in place of the zucchini, or go halfsies. 

Noodle-Less Lasagna Stuffed Bell Peppers

Prep Time: 20 minutes | Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Yield: 6 stuffed peppers
Type: Low-Carb, Main Dish, Italian

Ingredients

6 large red bell peppers, top sliced off and seeds removed
1-2 small zucchini, sliced thin (approximately 1/8")
Shredded mozzarella cheese

FOR THE SAUCE
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 ounces sundried tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil

FOR THE MEAT SPINACH MIXTURE
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon onion salt (optional)
1 pound ground chicken or turkey
10 ounces fresh chopped spinach

FOR THE RICOTTA MIXTURE
15 ounces ricotta cheese (I used fat free ricotta)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

Instructions

  1. Fill a large stockpot with water and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to low and add your prepared bell peppers (with their tops and seeds removed). You may need to do this in 2-3 batches depending on the size of your pot. Allow bell peppers to cook in the boiling water for approximately 2 minutes. You don't want a fully cooked and softened pepper! Remove from the boiling water using tongs or a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, spray a casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place your blanched bell peppers, top side up, in the casserole dish and set aside.

FOR THE SAUCE

  1. Heat a medium sized saucepan over medium high heat. Add the diced onion and and sauté for approximately 2-3 minutes, or until onion is fragrant and translucent (stirring frequently). Add the minced garlic to the onion and sauté for 1 minute.
  2. To the onions and garlic stir in the chopped sun dried tomatoes, tomato paste and chopped tomatoes (with their juice). Simmer mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid has evaporated by at least half. Mix in the tomato sauce and the spices and bring to a low simmer. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook the tomato sauce for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Note- you want a sauce that isn't watery, but not too thick either. Think pizza sauce... 

FOR THE MEAT + SPINACH MIXTURE

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the diced onion to the skillet and saute for approximately 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the minced garlic to the onion and continue to saute for 1 minute more. Add the salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and onion salt (if you have it). Stir to combine and add the ground chicken or turkey. Mix the ground meat with the onion, garlic and spices and continue to cook until fully cooked. Once cooked add the fresh spinach to the skillet and carefully mix in with the cooked meat (this will become easier as the spinach wilts). Once cooked and most of the juices have evaporated, remove from heat and set aside to cool.

FOR THE RICOTTA MIXTURE

  1. In a medium mixing bowl mix together all ingredients for the ricotta mixture until fully combined. Set aside.

BUILD

  1. With everything prepared, start layering! Sauce first, then a layer of zucchini, meat and ricotta. And repeat until you reach the top of the pepper. Since we're filling peppers, you don't need a lot of each! Use a tablespoon, not a measuring cup, when filling up the peppers. Repeat the filling process with each pepper until all peppers have been filled.
  2. Top each pepper with a generous amount of shredded cheese and some fresh chopped basil, if desired.
  3. Place in the oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes. Turn oven to broil and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and browned.
  4. Remove from oven and serve. Serve as a low-carb dinner or with fresh bread and a side salad. They make delicious leftovers, too!

Enjoy!

Hello! Let's be friends!

You may also enjoy...

Chocolate Bark Easter Brownies

Chocolate Bark Easter Brownies

Easy Naturally Sweetened Oat Granola

Easy Naturally Sweetened Oat Granola