An easy meatless version of a classic comfort food dinner! These Cheesy Vegan Gluten-Free Orzo Stuffed Peppers are top 8 allergy-free, easy to prepare, hearty, healthy, not to mention delicious! A family-approved weeknight meal you can even make ahead of time; loaded with cheesy, zesty, Greek & Italian flavors!
I’m not going to go digging through over 1000 posts, but I’ve told you, my Strength and Sunshine readers, about THE stuffed peppers, before. In the Strength and Sunshine family, these orzo stuffed peppers simply go by “THE Stuffed Peppers”. An iconic family favorite I and my chef skills are known for. This recipe has now been made countless times, starting many years before celiac disease and diet changes. Let’s just say, these stuffed peppers needed a “rebrand” and redo to make them Strength and Sunshine approved. While it’s not the original recipe I’ll be sharing with you today, this allergy-free version is just as tasty and a smidge healthier!
So what’s the famous history of these gluten-free orzo stuffed peppers?
I can’t take credit for the original recipe; let me explain. Way back when I was a “little girl”, I was OBSESSED with the Food Network. This was before I was really able to cook by myself (without supervision). It was during the early years of my budding interest and passion for cooking though, and after seeing our lady Giada cook up a delicious stuffed pepper recipe on afternoon…I just HAD to make them myself, some way somehow! This is the specific recipe I’m referring to. A “Greek-fusion” style orzo stuffed pepper. For some reason they just really called to me and somehow I got my mom to take me to the grocery store to pick up all the ingredients (mind you, this wasn’t a “cheap” recipe and she wouldn’t let me make it as often as I wanted, I digress).
What are the ingredients in these stuffed peppers?
So the original Giada recipe calls for: bell peppers (duh), canned tomatoes, zucchini, fresh mint, Pecorino Romano cheese, olive oil, garlic, chicken broth, and orzo pasta. Now, when I made these peppers “back in the day”, I still didn’t follow her recipe (and I can’t tell you why…I have no idea!) I never used zucchini, but I did use lime. I don’t know where the swap there came from, but over the years I was convinced this stuffed pepper recipe was from Rachel Ray and not Giada. But I guess the expensive fresh Pecorino Romano cheese I forced my mom to let me buy should have signaled this was not a frugal Ray-Ray recipe!
How had the ingredients changed to be gluten-free, vegan, and allergy-free?
To make these peppers “approved”, they now are made with gluten-free orzo, veggie broth, canned tomatoes, fresh mint, lime (it’s staying!), garlic, nutritional yeast, vegan parmesan, and of course, bell peppers. The reason why it took me so long to remake these after a years of hiatus was not having access to gluten-free orzo. The main honcho of the recipe filling, but Delallo gluten-free orzo does the trick!
Are these orzo stuffed peppers simple and easy to actually make?
Yes! While my mom had to help me with the oven when I was first making this recipe, I’m pretty sure you won’t have the same “Can you turn on the oven, mommy?!” problem that I had! These peppers really are easy to make-ahead and the filling is so delicious, try NOT to eat it all before you stuff the peppers (that was a problem we had, back in the day!) I always saved the leftover filling for lunch the next day! To make the stuffed peppers though, you’ll be cooking the orzo in the vegetable broth first, and then mixing the cooked pasta with all the other ingredients, filling about 5-6 bell peppers with the pasta mixture, and then baking them in the oven. You’re actually steaming them, with a little reserved broth in the bottom of the pan, covering the peppers with foil, and then removing that foil for the last 5 minutes or so to crisp up the “cheese“.
So good! Something about that lime, mint, cheesiness, tomato, and orzo just creates the most delicious “Greek Italian Fusion” filling! Funny enough, I always threw away most of the bell pepper when I was younger! I thought of it more as a flavoring vessel to serve the delicious pasta filling. I digress, the bell pepper (green, I always used green, but you can use any color), easily makes these individual entree portions to serve up! They’re fantastic reheated and I think even better the next day after the flavors really get to work with each other!
Cheesy Vegan Gluten-Free Orzo Stuffed Peppers
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Cook the orzo in the vegetable broth for about 7-8 minutes (al dente). Drain and reserve 1 cup of the broth.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the canned tomatoes and cut with kitchen scissors or crush with hands. Then add the cooked orzo, mint, nutritional yeast, lime, garlic, and black pepper. Mix well to combine.
- Clean the bell peppers, cut off the tops and deseed them. You can shave the bottom of the peppers to make them stand upright if need be.
- Fill each pepper with the orzo filling and place in a cast iron skillet or baking dish.
- Sprinkle the tops of the filled pepper with vegan parmesan, pour the 1 cup of reserved broth in the bottom of the pan, around the peppers, and cover the entire dish with foil.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove and let cool slightly before serving.
A note about why I use whole tomatoes. Giada used canned peeled whole tomatoes and used her hands (and scissors) to crush them up. You can use a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, but that takes the fun and rustic, un-uniform pieces of tomato out of it. So I say, go all in with these gluten-free orzo stuffed peppers and just enlist some little hands you may have running around to do the “whole tomato crushing”…no kitchen scissors required! Of course, I may have used crushed when I shot these specific photos…but you do what you have to do!
So tell me:
+ Have you ever made a recipe you saw on the Food Network?
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