Stuffed bell peppers have been a wildly popular dish for ages. Recipes have stuffed these colorful gems with a huge range of different ingredients, and they have been cooked under every technique imaginable. This recipe is a low carb version of stuffed peppers enhanced with a savory chutney and a spicy harissa. I’ve cooked them in the slow cooker to fully meld and infuse all of the robust flavors together in the way only low and slow cooking can do.Jump to Recipe
Using Chutneys to Boost Flavor
Chutneys are often found either in Indian dishes or as a spread on cheese trays. Chutney can often add a savory note to a variety of dishes, giving each dish a more complex flavor profile, and enhancing those comfort foods we gravitate toward in the cold weather.
A few cold-weather examples where chutneys would boost flavor would include meat pies, chili, or savory squash dishes. In warmer weather chutneys could be used to enhance the flavor of quinoa or grains.
Any time of the year, chutneys make a wonderful low carb spread to include on cheese trays, and this post can help with ideas specific to cheese plates or grazing tables.
Tips for cooking stuffed peppers in the Crockpot
While there are recipes for low carb stuffed peppers made in the microwave, the oven, or the instapot, I found that the chutney and harissa flavors of this recipe infused more thoroughly into the stuffing under low and slow cooking (i.e., the crockpot). I made this dish three times before I could achieve the result I was looking for, and I’ve included a video in the recipe that gives you tips on what I learned through these tests.
Here are a few of those tips specific to cooking in the crockpot:
- Most importantly, use a sharp knife or a toothpick to poke some holes in the bottom of the peppers so that some of the water from the fleshy parts of the peppers will drain into the crockpot rather than onto your plate when served;
- Fill the peppers fully and all the way to the edges. The stuffing will shrink a bit from the sides as it cooks;
- I tried cutting the peppers length-wise (basically halved) rather than standing up with just their tops cut off. While it makes a more visually appealing dish with the peppers cut lengthwise, you can’t fit as many in the crockpot and you end up with too much stuffing leftover.
Reliable Substitutions for Ingredients used in Stuffed Peppers
Stuffed peppers are very easy to modify to a specific diet or palate, and still end up with a successful, tasty dish. Modifications can take this dish from low carb to carb-rich, from protein-centrist to vegetarian, from Mexican to Indian, etc. Here are my favorite substitutions:
- For the protein: Good substitutions for the ground pork might include ground beef, ground turkey, or beans if you are plant based
- For the binding agents: I used squash, mushrooms and onions but you could easily use cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles or grains like quinoa or rice if you don’t want to be low-carb compliant
- For the chutney: I used a red pepper and apple chutney but any of the chutneys with late summer or Fall fruit would work. A plum chutney or a cranberry chutney would be wonderful.
- For the spice: If you purchase harissa paste, know that they vary quite a bit in the degree of heat. Some are extremely hot. I used HeathGlen’s harissa which I would call medium hot. A number of Mexican spice blends (smoked chipotle, enchilada blends, etc.) would work well. Curry paste would also be a good option.
- For the picante sauce: It would be easy to substitute salsa or tomato puree for the picante sauce.
Low Carb Crockpot Stuffed Peppers Layered with Chutney & Harissa
- 1/2 cup Picante Sauce
- 1/4 cup Harissa paste
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 lb ground pork sausage or ground beef or ground turkey
- 1 cup cauliflower rice alternatively use cooked butternut squash
- 3/4 cup chopped mushrooms
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper to taste
- 4-5 bell peppers
- 4 Tbsp. Chutney
- 1 1/4 cup shredded Gouda cheese or your favorite melting cheese
- sour cream and green onion for toppings
- In a medium sized bowl, stir together the Picante sauce, the harissa and the chopped onions. Microwave for 3-5 minutes to soften onions (don't saute onions, as that is too much grease or oil to add to peppers).
- In large bowl, mix together uncooked ground pork, cauliflower rice, mushrooms, minced garlic, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Stir in the onion/picante/harissa mix.
- Cut the tops off of the peppers and remove seeds, stem and membranes. With a sharp paring knife or smaller knife, pierce the bottom of each pepper with about 4-5 small holes so that the water from the pepper membranes will drain into the crockpot rather than onto your plate upon serving.
- Place pepper shells in slow cooker/crockpot and fill peppers almost to the top with stuffing mixture. Make sure and fill fully to the sides of the peppers, as the stuffing will shrink a bit upon cooking. Then place 1 Tbsp chutney on top of mixture and sprinkle some of the shredded cheese on top.
- Turn crockpot on low and cook for about 4 hours. Garnish with sour cream and minced green onions.
Watch the Step by Step Video for More Details