View cooking not as a task or chore. Instead shift the perspective to resemble the one we take when embarking on a road trip with stops along the way, some planned and some serendipitous.
My Bearded Husband deserves the credit for this concept inspired by the presence of excess bell peppers in our fridge and how we could use them for Wednesday dinner.
The idea: Seven Layer Dip INSIDE a bell pepper… or in this case three.
Of course, since I don’t eat meat that eliminates at least one or two of the potential layers, but we managed to cover the best elements plus bring them all together with a silky cheese sauce you will find yourself stealing spoonfuls of throughout the process.
While this recipe is slightly meandering and appears to contain myriad steps, the final manifestation is worth it. These steps unfolded organically as we went so they can be easily altered or substituted by others who choose to travel this way.
Put on some music, allow your ears to smile in response to the “ka-chu” sound of cracking open a can of something frothy, and surrender to a fun and interactive experience just as enjoyable as the actual eating part.
3 Bell Peppers
1 Can Red Kidney Beans, Rinsed & Drained
¾ Cup Shredded White Cheddar Cheese
¾ Cup Shredded Fontina Cheese (This is just what we had in the fridge, but you can
choose something else that melts beautifully, like Pepper Jack)
¼ Large Vidalia Onion
1-2 Garlic Cloves
Fresh Spinach – A Couple Giant Handfuls
¼ – ½ Cup Heavy Cream
Salt & Pepper
Red Pepper Flakes
Favorite Tortilla Chips
Favorite Store-Bought Salsa
- Preheat the oven to 375°F
- Slice the top off of the peppers and remove the seeds and insides to create a little bowl
- Trim a little off the bottom of the peppers so it stands up without wobbling
- Place the hollow peppers in the oven for about 15 minutes, then remove and allow to cool at least 5 minutes before handling
- In the meantime, in a skillet or sauté pan drizzle a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a pan and bring to medium high heat
- Wilt the fresh spinach til it is just cooked through, transfer to a small bowl, and drizzle a little bit more olive oil in the same pan
- Dice up your onion and mince your garlic
- Toss in the onions and cook til they start to turn golden then add the garlic and cook for another minute
- Lower the heat to medium
- Pour in the heavy cream and season with ½ Tsp each of salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, and red pepper flakes – feel free to adjust the seasoning based on your personal preference
- Add the shredded cheese, reserving some as a topping, and stir til completely melted
- Turn off the heat and just let it hang out til ready to use
- Thinly slice the avocado and tomato so they are half-moon shapes
- In a bowl, use a fork to coarsely crush the kidney beans
- Place a large spoonful of crushed beans in each pepper and gently coax it around the sides to form a kind of bean wall or lining
- Arrange the slices of tomato and avocado, alternating each fruit and using whatever desired quantity
- Divide the spinach up between the three peppers, packing it in gently yet firmly
- Pour the cheese sauce into the pepper cups so it smothers the spinach and fills in all the gaps
- Top each pepper with the remaining shredded cheese
- Return the peppers to the oven and resume baking for 15-20 minutes
- Place on a platter and surround with a garland of tortilla chips
The most fun way to eat these peppers is the slice and dip method. Starting at the top of the pepper, carve a slice, insert the chip under the slice so it slides into the molten cheesy center and then lift the chip up. If that sounds confusing, just let your intuition take over and all will work out as it should!
A side of salsa and some chunks of avocado with fresh lime juice are excellent toppings to add to each bite as you so desire.