Try these one-bite Stuffed Mini Peppers with goat cheese and pesto for your next holiday or dinner party. Delicious, easy and only 20 minutes to make (with a few good shortcuts). I love to serve them with a dramatic drizzle of balsamic reduction.
My friend Barbara sent me a recipe for mini stuffed peppers, raving how great they were and how easy they were to make. I loved the look and simplicity (thanks Barbara) and decided to create my own version.
As always, I look for ways to simply the many similar recipes floating on the internet without compromising taste. After three tries – and a couple of good shortcuts – I got what I want.
- The pepper shells are soft with some charred edges (love that).
- I combined the goat cheese and pesto for a yummy and festive colored combo.
- I broiled the peppers instead of baking them which cut the time in half.
- And I used a balsamic reduction as a garnish to give the peppers a sweet earthy finish.
Last weekend I served these mini stuffed peppers along with Dukkah (seed dip) and Thai butternut squash soup served in espresso cups. Scroll down to check out some of our other easy vegetarian appetizers.
Tailor To Your Taste
- I also tried this recipe with smooth ricotta cheese instead of goat cheese. If you’re not a huge goat cheese fan (like me) you will LOVE this milder version. Just add a pinch of salt (and a squirt of lemon if you like) to boost the flavor of the ricotta. Feta cheese, stronger than goat cheese, should work fine too, but I haven’t tried it. If you’re about to ask about cream cheese, keep in mind that goat cheese is healthier – lower in fat and calories, higher in protein and calcium.
- You can add a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese directly to the goat cheese-pesto mixture. Instead, I sprinkle a bit on top before broiling. You can leave it out altogether.
- Feel free to add some heat with chopped seeded jalapenos or chili flakes.
- If you don’t have or don’t want to make balsamic reduction, you can drizzle sweet Thai chili sauce instead. Be conservative (or not) – it’s spicy.
- Use your fingers to remove seeds and ribs in the mini peppers instead of a knife. Much quicker!
- Buy a good pesto instead of making it. Many people seem to like the Costco version. I find it too cheesy for my taste, but hey – personal preference. If you have basil hanging around, it just takes 5 minutes to make our classic basil pesto recipe. Of course, any herb pesto will do, not just basil.
- Buy shredded fresh Parmesan cheese.
- I broil everything to cut down on time. Other recipes call for baking the mini stuffed peppers at 425F for 20-25 minutes (or in two parts – pre and post stuffed).
- Use a store-bought balsamic reduction (I do). If you prefer to make your own, there are instructions in the recipe below.
Make Ahead Mini Stuffed Peppers
- The recipe can be made ahead up to the point of broiling the stuffed peppers in the final stage just before serving.
- Alternatively, make the full recipe and serve at room temperature. Trust me, they’ll still be devoured. My only suggestion is to drizzle the balsamic reduction on top or on the serving tray just before serving as it tends to bleed into the food.
Mini Stuffed Peppers With Goat Cheese
- 8 mini peppers (3-4 inches long) any color (about 1/2 lb.)
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
Goat Cheese Mixture
- 1/2 cup goat cheese (3 oz or 85 gm) Note 1
- 2 tbsp pesto (or more to taste) Note 2
- 1/2 tbsp finely chopped green onion (about 1 green onion)
- 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Balsamic reduction drizzle Note 3
- TURN ON BROILER in oven. Move one of shelves/rack to broil position, about 6 inches from the top. Line pan with foil for easy clean up.
- PREPARE PEPPERS: Cut off tops/stems of mini peppers. Slice each down the middle lengthwise to make two halves. Using clean fingers and nails, scrape out seeds and soft ribs. Place on pan. Drizzle oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Turn peppers face side down in single layer on pan. Broil 3 minutes. Turn peppers over. Broil 3 minutes on side facing up or until peppers begin to char. Remove from oven.
- MAKE GOAT CHEESE-PESTO MIXTURE (1 min): While peppers are broiling, combine goat cheese, onions and pesto in small bowl. Microwave for 15-20 seconds to soften. This makes it easier to stuff the peppers. Mix well.
- STUFF AND BROIL: Spoon a teaspoon of mixture into each pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if using. Broil for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes until starting to brown.
- SERVE: Drizzle balsamic reduction in zigzag or cross hatch pattern on cutting board or platter. Transfer peppers with small spatula. Serve immediately.
- Use ricotta instead of goat cheese: If using ricotta, add a pinch of salt (and lemon juice or zest if you like) as the ricotta is very bland. I also add more pesto.
- To make your own pesto: Try our classic basil pesto recipe.
- Balsamic reduction: I use a store bought version in a small squeeze bottle that is perfect for drizzling. If you prefer to make your own (or can't find it), here's how to make balsamic reduction: Bring to boil a 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoons honey or brown sugar. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for about 6-8 minutes until it reduces by half to a syrup consistency (thick enough to coat the back of a spoon).
- Make Ahead: The recipe can be made ahead up to the point of broiling the stuffed peppers in the final stage just before serving. Alternatively, make the full recipe and serve at room temperature. Do the balsamic drizzle just before serving.
Here are a few other easy vegetarian appetizers you might like:
Our mini stuffed pepper recipe was inspired by a recipe from Aggies Kitchen.