The Washington Post

Stuffed Sweet Pepper ‘Boats’

Stuffed Sweet Pepper ‘Boats’ 6.000

Rey Lopez for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Jan 25, 2023

Cool and crisp raw sweet peppers are a delightful contrast for a warm, slightly spicy ground turkey filling in this family-friendly meal. The interactive nature of assembling the pepper “boats” and the bright colors of the peppers make this recipe especially fun for young eaters.

It’s also easy to adapt to different tastes. For the heat-averse, consider reducing or eliminating the chili powder, replacing it with more sweet paprika or some smoked paprika, if desired. Swap in another ground meat for the turkey, or try it with plant-based ground meat or cauliflower rice (see VARIATIONS). Not into peppers? The filling would be great tucked into tortillas for tacos or a soft bun for a sloppy-Joe-style dish.

It wasn’t included in cookbook author Jenny Mollen’s original recipe, but we love the taco-bar-inspired option of topping these peppers with shredded cheese, scallions, salsa or sour cream.

Total time: 40 mins

Storage Notes: Refrigerate for up to 4 days.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6 servings; makes 3 cups filling

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion (7 ounces), chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey, preferably 93 percent lean (may substitute ground beef; plant-based ground meat, such as Impossible Beef; or cauliflower rice; see VARIATIONS)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons no-salt-added chicken or vegetable broth
  • 24 mini sweet peppers (24 to 32 ounces, depending on size), sliced in half lengthwise and seeded
  • Shredded cheese, such as cheddar, Monterey Jack or pepper Jack, for serving (optional)
  • Sliced scallions, for serving (optional)
  • Salsa, for serving (optional)
  • Sour cream, for serving (optional)


In a large, cast-iron or other heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the onion and cook until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the turkey, salt, pepper, paprika, chili powder, oregano and cumin, stirring until combined. Cook, stirring to break up the meat until it is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste until incorporated. Add the broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a simmer, adjusting as needed. Cook until the broth has reduced and the mixture has thickened slightly and is not soupy, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste, adding more salt as needed. Remove from the heat.

Transfer the meat to a serving bowl and the halved peppers to a platter. Serve family-style, scooping about 1 tablespoon of the turkey mixture onto each halved pepper.

VARIATIONS: For a meatless option, substitute 12 ounces of plant-based ground meat, such as Impossible Beef. (It does not lose as much volume as conventional meat, so you can start with less.) Or try about 3 cups of cauliflower rice; start with a 1 1/2- to 2-pound head of cauliflower, and break down the florets in batches in a food processor until finely ground, with a texture similar to rice or couscous, depending on your preference. Alternatively, you can grate the cauliflower on the large holes of a box grater. (If you are buying cauliflower rice, you’ll need about 10 ounces.) The cook time on both options will be about the same as for the turkey.

Recipe Source

Adapted from “Dictator Lunches” by Jenny Mollen (Harvest, 2022).

Tested by Becky Krystal.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (1/2 cup filling and 8 pepper halves): 214

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 11g 17%

Saturated Fat: 2g 10%

Cholesterol: 56mg 19%

Sodium: 284mg 12%

Total Carbohydrates: 12g 4%

Dietary Fiber: 4g 16%

Sugar: 7g

Protein: 17g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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