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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.

Spicy Pesto Cheese Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers | halfbakedharvest.com

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.

Spicy Pesto Cheese Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers | halfbakedharvest.com

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.

Spicy Pesto Cheese Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers | halfbakedharvest.com

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!

Spicy Pesto Cheese Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers | halfbakedharvest.com

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!

Spicy Pesto Cheese Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers | halfbakedharvest.com

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!

Spicy Pesto Cheese Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers | halfbakedharvest.com

Looking for other dinner recipes? Here are some favorites:

Greek Orzo Stuffed Red Peppers with Lemony Basil Tomatoes

Cauliflower and Cheese with Spicy Breadcrumbs

30 Minute Cajun Butter Steak and Peppers

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

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories Per Serving: 455 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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Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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!
Spicy Pesto Cheese Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers | halfbakedharvest.com

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe will go to our growing pile of HBH favorites. I couldn’t find the sausage I would have preferred so I will be on the hunt for that for next time. This is truly delicious, very gooey and cheesy.

    1. Hey Michele,
      Happy Sunday! I am thrilled to hear that this recipe was a winner. Thanks a lot for giving it a try! xTieghan

  2. 5 stars
    I made these for family dinner and everyone LOVED them. The pepperoni on top added a depth of flavor that I never knew I needed! Will definitely be making these again. Xx

    1. Hey Lindsey,
      I am so glad to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for giving it a try! Yes, just cover and freeze before baking. xTieghan

  3. 5 stars
    I had a slight fail with this – not the recipe fault though. I didn’t do a great job with the peppers so it all fell apart in the end but HOLY awesome it tasted wonderful. We also took the leftovers and mixed it with capellini the next day.

    1. Hey Tracy,
      Happy Labor Day!🇺🇸 Thanks a lot for giving this recipe a try, I love to hear that it was enjoyed! xTieghan

  4. 5 stars
    These were great! I used turkey Italian sausage, but kept everything else the same. I doubled it since I was cooking for a large crowd. I’m very excited for my lunch leftovers. I had a lot of the ricotta mixture leftover, too, so I will have to come up with a way to use it.

      1. Hey Shannon,
        Fantastic! Love to hear that the recipe was enjoyed, thanks bunch for making it. Have the best weekend:) xTieghan

    1. Hey Katie,
      Happy Friday! I am delighted to hear that this recipe was enjoyed! Thanks a lot for making it. xTieghan

  5. 5 stars
    This was really delicious. I was never a big fan of stuffed peppers, but your idea of roasting them made me quickly change my outlook. Superb! Thank you as always for great recipes.

    1. Hey Molly,
      Awesome! Thanks a lot for making this recipe and sharing your feedback. I’m glad it was enjoyed! xTieghan

  6. 5 stars
    Made these for my family tonight – including one vegetarian without the sausage/pepperoni. Everyone loved them!! Thank you!

  7. This was fun to make and so satisfying to eat! I did have alot of the ricotta mixture leftover though. I used 3 whole fairly large peppers (so had 6 halves)…but no worries as I will re-purpose and make lasagna roll-ups! And I am so happy that I found you! I LOVE your recipes! I also recently made your Thai Peanut Chicken with Spicy Lime Mango ! Super hit with the Fam!

    1. Hey Susan,
      Thanks a lot for giving this recipe a try, I am so glad to hear that it was enjoyed!! xxTieghan

      1. I made these tonight and they were sooooo good! I would rather eat this than a pizza any day! I wanted to keep eating and eating. Thank you again for all your amazing recipes. I make one of your recipes almost every week ❤

        1. Hey Kate,
          Awesome! Thanks a lot for making this recipe and sharing your feedback. I’m glad it was enjoyed! xTieghan

    1. Hey Kathy,
      Awesome! I love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed and appreciate you giving it a go! Have a wonderful week:) xTieghan

  8. 5 stars
    This was just amazing and even better the next day. So easy to prepare and worth every minute. At first I thought pepperoni was going to be an overkill but it was really perfect with it. I would mention that with the right skillet, this could be prepared and baked in one pan – always looking for ways so save washing dishes.

    1. Hey Ginger,
      Awesome! I am so glad to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for making it! Have the best weekend:) xTieghan

  9. Any tips on not getting soggy peppers?? I made it and it was DELICIOUS but my peppers didn’t hold their shape after steaming.

    1. Hey Rachel,
      The peppers should be pretty soft after baking…what do you mean by steaming? Let me know how I can help! xTieghan

  10. 5 stars
    The flavor was fantastic! Thanks for a great recipe. I used mild Italian sausage and summer squash. I plan to try different variations like a meatless with more veggies.

    1. 5 stars
      This was delicious! I served the peppers on a bed of orzo flavoured with the left over filling. Will definitely be making again!

  11. Thanks for the great recipe! Tweaked a bit- used 1/2 Italian turkey sausage and 1/2 ground chicken. Subbed low fat cottage cheese- blended. Mixed with grated Parmesan and the pesto. Added mushrooms to the meat mixture. So tasty 😋

  12. Hi Tieghan,
    I was wondering if it makes a huge difference using whole milk ricotta cheese versus part skim milk ricotta cheese? Trying it out tonight!

    1. Hey Mariah,
      Either one will work just fine here. I hope the recipe turns out amazing for you, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

  13. 5 stars
    So tasty! My fiancé and I used Pre-cooked spicy chicken sausage and omitted the pepperoni. We also used cashew-based mozzarella on top to cut down on the dairy a bit. Overall so tasty!! We will definitely be making it again.

    1. Hey Allison,
      Fantastic! I am delighted to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a lot for giving it a try! Have the best week:) xTieghan

  14. I only did 3 peppers so I had plenty of the ricotta, fontina, pesto mixture leftover. Any suggestions on what I can do with it?

    1. Hey Kelli,
      Thanks so much for giving the recipe a try, you could use the extra mixture for lasagna. I hope you loved the recipe:) xTieghan

    2. 5 stars
      Two thoughts: Use it to stuff and bake portobello mushrooms or layer it in a pasta casserole.

      I loved these! Thought they came out really well.

      1. Hey Pat,
        Happy Sunday! I love to hear this recipe was enjoyed and I truly appreciate you giving it a try! xxTieghan

  15. 5 stars
    I made this tonight and my family loved it. I substituted smoked paprika instead of the red pepper and it gave it a delicious smokey flavor!

    1. Hey Shannan,
      Fantastic, I am so glad to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for making it! xTieghan

  16. Hello! I see the 3-4 peppers makes 6 servings. I am assuming a half of a pepper is a serving? Can you clarify? Thanks so much! 🙂

    1. Hey Bella,
      Yes, one half of a pepper is one serving. I hope you love this recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

  17. 5 stars
    I had to sub the chicken sausage with sweet Italian pork sausage. I thought it was easy to make and tasted great! Next time I might use Italian spiced tomatoes instead of plain tomato sauce. I expect the flavors will be even better when we eat the leftovers. Thanks for another family-pleasing meal! Yum!

    1. Hey Joy,
      Happy Wednesday! Thanks a bunch for making this recipe, I am so glad to hear it was a winner:) xTieghan

    1. Hey Sasha,
      I get mine from Whole Foods, but you really should be able to find at any grocery store. I hope you love this recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

        1. Hey Alycia,
          I would slice the peppers and freeze in an airtight container. Please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  18. This looks delicious! I’m going to make it tonight. Is the tomato sauce the kind in the can (like from Hunt’s), not jarred pasta sauce?

    1. Hey Kara,
      Thanks so much! I like to use Rao’s sauce, it’s my fave! I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

    1. Hey Sherri,
      You can easily sub the meat for your favorite vegetarian option, cauliflower would work well here! I hope you love this recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

  19. 5 stars
    Wow, this one is a family favorite! And filled with our favorite things – red peppers, ricotta cheese, zucchini, pesto, and poultry sausage. I added some pine nuts on top of the ricotta since I make my own pesto without the pine nuts and Parmesan cheese, freeze it, and then add in when I defrost and use. I also added some grated Parmesan cheese to the ricotta mixture for the same reason. Definitely adding this to the rotation and plenty left for lunches, too! Thank you for this easy, healthy, carb-free meal!

  20. Adding this to the list pronto! Just wondering – where do you get your ground chicken sausage? I only ever see them in links.

    Thanks!!

    1. Hey Maggie,
      I get my chicken sausage from Whole Foods:) I hope you love this recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

  21. This looks amazing! Is there an option to replace the ground sausage with something to make these vegetarian? Thank you for all your fabulous ideas, creations and posts! I look forward to them every morning:)

    1. Hey Kerry,
      You could use more of your fave veggies, cauliflower would work well here! I hope you love this dish, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

      1. Hey Cynthia,
        If you purchase the chicken sausage in the casing then yes you will want to remove it. I hope the recipe turns out amazing for you, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan