One of the best things about cooking for a living is that I get to indulge my inner child and spend all day playing with food. This is never more true than around all the big holidays like Christmas, Easter and Halloween, as it’s a chance to get creative and celebrate the season. With Halloween just around the corner, I couldn’t resist these spookily delicious Jack o’ Lantern Peppers filled with rich and spicy beef chilli!
Of course, you can make these peppers without carving Jack o’ Lantern faces in them and they’d still be perfectly tasty, but it’s great fun and ideal for this time of year. We are a kid-free household, but I imagine these fun faces might even tempt a committed vegetable avoider to eat their greens. The filling can be adjusted to suit your tastes, I like plenty of spice, but if you aren’t a fan of chilli or cooking for children just dial it back to taste.
For optimum flavour, it’s best to use the sweeter red and yellow peppers for this recipe, or even orange if you can find them. I carve the faces using a small, sharp knife, though at this time of year it’s often possible to buy pumpkin carving kits which are great for this sort of work.
Jack o’ Lantern Peppers can also be prepared in advance and cooked or reheated when you need them. That means they’re great if you are having a Halloween themed dinner or party as you can get all the work done before any guests arrive. I like to serve them with rice, but anything similar will do; couscous or bulgur are particularly good.
Are you celebrating Halloween this year? Let me know in the comments below! xJ
Let me know if you try this recipe in the comments below, or using the hashtag #daysofjay on Instagram. Happy cooking!
- 6 medium bell peppers / capsicums, red, yellow or orange
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 500g beef mince
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 x tin crushed tomatoes
- 1 x tin kidney beans
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp oregano
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ a beef stock cube, crumbled
- 3 Tbsp pickled jalapeños, diced
- 200g cheese, grated
- sea salt and black pepper
- basmati rice
- Cut the stem end from the top of the peppers and carefully remove the seeds and any white pith using a small, sharp knife. Cut jack ‘o’ lantern faces into the sides of the peppers, then place in a baking dish.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then sauté the onion gently for 5 minutes until softened but not browned. Add the beef mince and tomato paste to the pan and cook, using a wooden spoon to break up the mince, for 5 minutes until the mince is well coloured.
- Add the tomatoes, kidney beans, cumin, cayenne pepper, oregano, cinnamon and the stock cube to the pan along with half a tomato tin of water. Season with salt and pepper, then simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the mixture is rich and thick. Stir through the jalapeños, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary then remove from the heat.
- Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas 6. When the beef is cooked divide the filling generously between the six peppers, making a little mound on top of each. If there is any filling left over I keep it warm and serve alongside the finished peppers.
- Replace the pepper stems on top, then pour 100ml water into the baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Take the peppers out of the oven, remove the foil being careful of the steam, then use tongs to remove the lid of each pepper. Sprinkle over the grated cheese, replace the lid and return to the oven for 15 minutes, until the peppers have softened and begun to scorch.
- Serve immediately with cooked basmati rice and sour cream.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 pepper
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 547Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 107mgSodium: 491mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 5gSugar: 8gProtein: 36g
Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I make Jack o’ Lantern Peppers in advance?
Yes, absolutely. I prefer to make them up to the point where they are stuffed, then cover and refrigerate until I’m ready to cook them. They’ll keep like that for at least 48 hours.
Can I make Jack o’ Lantern Peppers with different meat? Or meat-free?
Of course! They taste great with any mince, turkey is excellent and very lean. For vegetarian, I’d either use cooked lentil or a plant-based meat substitute to make the chilli.
Can Jack o’ Lantern peppers be reheated or frozen?
They reheat perfectly, I’ve not tried freezing them but I imagine they would freeze ok, they’ll reduce a lot of liquid when they defrost and will need to be defrosted overnight in the fridge before reheating.