Unstuffed Peppers

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If you love stuffed peppers, you will love this quick and easy version - Unstuffed Peppers! They have all the flavor and texture of stuffed peppers with less time and less mess. This recipe is one of the 75 nutritious antioxidant-rich bowls from Lindsay Cotter's new cookbook - Nourishing Superfood Bowls.

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Unstuffed Peppers

I’m so inspired daily by all the amazing food bloggers I insta-meet and insta-love! One of those talented bloggers and nutrition specialist is Lindsay Cotter from the Cotter Crunch blog, who recently wrote the gorgeous Nourishing Superfood Bowls (affil link) cookbook.

The book has over 75 bowl recipes which are all gluten-free and allergy-friendly, with tons of vegetarian, vegan, paleo and grain-free options. This recipe for the unstuffed peppers {or deconstructed stuffed bell pepper bowl} is one of those shining recipes that is filled with feel-good ingredients and superfoods.

I didn’t make any changes to the recipe – it’s perfect the way it is – a casual, comforting nutrition-packed unstuffed peppers bowl! Lindsay says she loves them because they are family friendly, easy to make, easy to clean up, and totally easy to devour!

Final bowl of the unstuffed peppers with quinoa, ground beef mixture, steamed spinach, peppers, tomatoes, sour cream and a lemon slice

Why are Unstuffed Peppers Better than Stuffed Peppers?

  1. Less steps – traditionally with stuffed peppers, I start by boiling the peppers in one pot, making the rice or quinoa in another pot, then coring out the peppers, stuffing them and baking them with the stuffing in another dish – too many steps for some nights!
  2. Less time – Instead of a 60 minute recipe, this one literally takes half the time from start to finish.
  3. Less clean up – Less cookware and bakeware involved when they’re not stuffed.
  4. Same amazing flavor – yes all the way!

But hey, when you have the time, I still got some love for traditional stuffed peppers like my Vegetarian Quinoa Stuffed Peppers and my Taco Stuffed Peppers.

Steps to Make Unstuffed Peppers

I usually make a big batch of quinoa to have on hand during the week, so I only used one skillet to fry the onions, ground beef, peppers and the tomato sauce.

Black skillet full of cooked ground beef, chopped onions, chopped peppers and tomato sauce

Then I added the cooked ground beef mixture to a bowl with quinoa, raw slices of bell peppers and slightly steamed spinach.

Big bowl divided into four parts of cooked quinoa, ground beef mixture, steamed spinach and fresh cut peppers

In the next step, I put it all together and garnished away! As you can see, I’m in love with how Lindsay styled her bowl so I literally tried to copy it down to where the squeezed lime is placed haha.

Hey, I’m still a budding young food photographer. And, this is how I learn by emulating beautiful photographers I admire. I’m getting there…slowly but surely!

Final bowl of the unstuffed peppers with quinoa, ground beef mixture, steamed spinach, peppers, tomatoes, sour cream and a lemon slice - shown right next to the picture of the dish in the Nourishing Superfood cookbook

And, like the other 74 bowl recipes in the book, it’s packed with superfoods and flavorful combinations of grain, protein and vegetables! This is a whole complete comforting meal in just one bowl.


For the Beef

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Fine sea salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp tamari

For the Bowl

  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 3 cups lightly steamed spinach
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced thin
  • Handful fresh torn cilantro
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • Handful sliced cherry tomatoes
  • Sour cream, for topping (optional)
  • Red pepper flakes, for topping (optional)
  • Lemon slices, for garnish


  1. To make the beef, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and cook until no longer pink, about 7-10 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, onion, cook for 2 minutes, then add the chopped bell pepper, Italian seasoning, and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the tomato sauce and tamari and cook until bubbly, about 5 more minutes.
  4. To assemble the bowls, spoon the quinoa first, followed by the spinach. Add in the ground beef mixture and top with sliced bell pepper, cilantro, green onions and cherry tomatoes.
  5. Add a dollop of sour cream and red pepper flakes, if desired, and garnish with sliced lemon.
  6. Serve warm and enjoy!


  • How to Steam Spinach: Place the fresh spinach in a steamer over a saucepan filled halfway with boiling water. Steam for 2-3 minutes then remove and add to the Unstuffed Peppers.
  • How to Cook Quinoa: Place the quinoa in a saucepan with 2:1 ratio of water:quinoa. Season with salt, and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand, covered for 5 minutes. Then fluff the rice and add to the Unstuffed Peppers.
  • Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

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