These Spicy Pesto Cheese Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers are best for nights when you’re craving Italian, but want to keep things healthy, delicious, and summery too! Roasted red peppers stuffed with a spicy, herby, tomato sauce that’s full of fresh zucchini and topped with pesto swirled ricotta cheese. This is a great way to use summer produce and each pepper is cheesy and so delicious.
Developing recipes is such an interesting process for me. No recipe development is ever the same and its inspiration is always different. I get most of my ideas from things like family and travel. Or a pretty color palette that I want to take from a photo and recreate with fresh food.
Other times it’s old memories of dishes I ate as a kid. And sometimes, a recipe will just happen randomly as I am cooking. I’ll swap this for that, add a little of this, and then do something totally random…like top roasted red peppers with pepperoni (I know it’s weird, but I promise it’s so good).
The times when recipes come together randomly as I’m cooking away are usually the recipes I love most. And that is most certainly the case with these peppers.
Here are the details – start with the peppers
You can use any color bell pepper for this recipe or even poblano peppers. But I love red peppers, so that’s what I use most often.
Start by pre-roasting the peppers over an open flame on a gas burner. Char the peppers just lightly to give them a nice flavor. Then transfer the pepper to a bowl, cover the bowl, and let the peppers steam while you make the sauce.
If you don’t have a gas burner, put the peppers under the broiler, but watch them closely. The broiler works very quickly.
Make the red sauce
I kept this very simple, using canned tomatoes, fresh oregano, and thyme. I did add a special ingredient – spicy Italian chicken sausage (though you could also use ground chicken).
Of course, if you’re vegetarian or just going for a meatless Monday theme, you can easily omit the sausage. Just double up on the zucchini. I’d also recommend adding some fresh garlic and a touch more crushed red pepper flakes. This will keep the sauce flavorful and on the spicy side.
Either way, with or without the sausage it’s going to be great, so do what works for you!
Now we assemble…
First, mix the ricotta cheese with the pesto.
Then add the pepper halves to a baking dish with a bit more tomato sauce. Then stuff them with the spicy meat sauce, a dollop of pesto swirled ricotta, and finish with mozzarella and pepperoni.
And I know, the pepperoni is different. But my dad used to top his pasta dish with pepperoni and it was so, so good. I did the same here, and again…so, so good.
Bake until the cheese is melted and the sauce is all bubbly and top with more pesto and basil!
Then just serve these up! They’re great with a loaf of crusty bread on the side, or even with your favorite pasta.
If I could best describe this dish, I would say that it’s kind of like a pizza stuffed red pepper.
I’m usually all about the carbs. But these cheesy peppers are surprisingly filling. And when served with bread plus a salad…well, they make for the perfect dinner!
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Lastly, if you make these Spicy Pesto Cheese Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!
Spicy Pesto Cheese Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers
Calories Per Serving: 711 kcal
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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- 3-4 red bell peppers
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound ground spicy Italian chicken sausage
- 1 zucchini or yellow summer squash, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- red pepper flakes
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 cup shredded fontina cheese
- 3/4 cup basil pesto
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella or provolone cheese
- 1/2 cup pepperoni slices (optional)
- fresh basil, for serving
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- 1. Place the peppers over an open flame on a gas burner and lightly char, turning 2-3 times for 3-4 minutes. Don't blacken them, just a light char. Alternately, you can place the peppers under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, watch closely. 2. Put the peppers in a bowl and cover with a plate. Let steam 10 minutes, then slice the peppers in half and discard the seeds. 3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken sausage and zucchini, cook until the meat is browned, about 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the oregano, thyme, 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce, red pepper flakes, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly. 4. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, fontina, and pesto. Preheat the oven to 425° F. 5. Spoon the remaining tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange the peppers in the baking dish and stuff with the meat sauce, then add a dollop of pesto ricotta. Add the mozzarella and pepperoni (if using).6. Bake 15-20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is lightly browned on top. Serve with pesto, basil, and thyme. Enjoy!