I didn’t think stuffed pepper casserole cooked in a slow cooker for hours could be possible. I just didn’t know what would happen to the brown rice. But I got so many questions on my lazy cabbage rolls from readers asking if it can be cooked in a slow cooker that I had to try. I will attempt the lazy cabbage rolls in a slow cooker one day but for now I was craving unstuffed bell peppers casserole. In a sense, both dishes are similar – meat, rice and veggies cooked in a tomato sauce.
At last, fall is such a pepper season. A few more weeks and we will be buying peppers from Mexico. So, I went ahead and deconstructed one of my favourite childhood meals.
I grew up eating mom’s chicken stuffed peppers. Pepper adds a unique flavour to rice and meat. The whole combo of rice, meat and peppers in tomato sauce with sour cream and a slice of rye bread is so 90’s nostalgia for me. Unlike cabbage rolls that you could eat almost all year long bell peppers don’t store well so were available mainly in early fall. Like right now.
In my world, there is magic in a meal that can be chopped, stirred together and later on taste delicious: sweet potato skillet Tex Mex style, quinoa skillet with chicken and garden veggies, fish skillet with vegetables and chicken and cauliflower skillet. I love messy one plate/bowl/skillet meals with all my heart. They are just so damn easy to serve and reserve. I am a BIG lover of leftovers that can be easily dumped into a container and voila, you have lunch. Assembling meals is not my favourite. I just don’t have time.
Buddha bowls are great. And so are Mason jar salads. And tacos. But nothing. I repeat absolutely n-o-t-h-i-n-g beats one pot meals if you are a mom of 2+ kids. That is a special condition. For now, at least, my friends. For now. This time is special. In maaaaaaaaany different ways.
So, I decided to give a stuffed pepper casserole a try. $3/lb peppers from the farmers market. Mom’s venison meat. Brown rice. Costco’s organic tomato sauce. Onion and garlic. Coconut oil. That is it.
This is what undone stuffed pepper casserole looks like assembled. I stuck it in a fridge at 2PM and started cooking at 7:30AM the next day. It took 4.5 hours on High and I noticed tomato sauce just started burning. So, 4.5 hours was a perfect timing because rice was cooked. On Low it is usually double the time.
I didn’t use any other spices besides salt and pepper. It is how my mom used to cook and I loved her food. Simple. You could add Italian seasoning, Worcestershire sauce etc. But why? All ingredients will have an opportunity to marry each other over hours creating a delicious profile of flavours.
More than enough. Don’t make your life complicated. That is what used to scare me the most in local recipes when I wanted to cook something. A long list of mediocre amount of unknown ingredients.
A dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt. A rye toast. Some fresh parsley. And you are good to go! This slow cooker stuffed pepper casserole is heavenly, just like my mom’s slow cooker porcupine meatballs.
My kids do not like stuffed peppers because of whole cooked soggy pepper around the filling (I was the same, sigh) but this lazy stuffed pepper casserole they ate in a pinch. Enjoy!
Crock Pot Stuffed Pepper Casserole
Crock Pot Stuffed Pepper Casserole made with bell peppers, brown rice, ground turkey and tomato sauce. Simple unstuffed lazy peppers recipe in a slow cooker.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 hours 45 minutes
- Total Time: 5 hours
- Yield: 6 servings
- 2 lbs ground turkey (chicken or beef)
- 3 tbsp coconut or avocado oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 6 large bell peppers, seeded & coarsely chopped
- 1 cup brown rice, rinsed & drained*
- 2 cups water
- 15 oz can tomato sauce (I used low sodium)
- 1 tsp himalayan pink salt
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat large cast iron skillet on medium heat and swirl 1 tbsp of oil to coat. Add meat and cook for 10 minutes or until brown, breaking into small pieces with spatula. Transfer to a large slow cooker.
- Return skillet to the stove and swirl another tbsp of oil to coat. Add onions and garlic; cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a crock pot.
- Return skillet to the stove and swirl last tbsp of oil to coat. Add peppers and cook for 7-10 minutes or until fragrant and browned a bit, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a slow cooker along with rice, water, tomato sauce, salt and pepper.
- Stir, cover and cook on Low for 9 hours or on High for 4.5 hours (I noticed closer to a 5 hour mark casserole started to burn). Serve hot with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a toast.
Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
*Rice is not cooked or pre-cooked. **Casserole can be assembled the night before and plugged in the next day. Make sure to refrigerate.
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