Stuffed peppers with BBQ sauce

It is a stereotype that the British always talk about the weather, but it is hard to deny that the subject does crop up pretty regularly in everyday conversation. Now we are getting more sunshine and less rain as Spring progresses I have heard a lot of people discussing whether the weather might be good enough for a BBQ at the weekend.  Despite some suitably dry and warm weekend weather, I haven’t actually got round to having a BBQ yet this year, but all the talk of them did make me want BBQ sauce.  However, I went for the much safer option of using it on baked rather than BBQ food. There are lots of variations of BBQ sauce, but most tend to be thick, full of robust flavours and with a delightful balance between sweet, salty and tangy which makes them very moreish. They are usually rather high in sugars, but in this version I reduced this down to 1/2 tsp or less and compensated with spices and tangy vinegar instead.  Here the sauce is used to flavour a kidney bean mixture which I have stuffed into pepper halves and is also a lovely accompaniment to the finished dish. This stuffing can also be used in a variety of other vegetables such as marrow or squash, or even in meat or fish dishes.  The sauce is great for glazing pretty much any grilled or BBQ meat, fish and vegetables as well, so it is a good one to have handy just in case you get some good BBQ weather.

Stuffed peppers with BBQ sauce

Cooking time: 15 minutes preparation, 30 minutes baking on the night (but you don’t need to supervise this)

Dietary info: dairy-free (vegan if you use tamarind rather than Worcester sauce), you can make it gluten-free by replacing the malt vinegar with cider vinegar and the Worcester sauce with a gluten-free tamarind paste

Serves: 3

  • 3 peppers, any colour, washed, halved and de-seeded


  • 1x235g can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 courgette, finely diced
  • 1 tsp sugar or sweetener such as stevia
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50ml water

BBQ sauce

  • 500g passata
  • 1 tbsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp tabasco sauce
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste or powder, or 1 ½ tbsp Worcester sauce (which is not vegetarian)
  • ½ tsp sugar or sweetener such as stevia
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp malt vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Put the onion in a saucepan with enough water to stop them sticking, cover and cook over a medium heat until they are until softening, about 5 minutes, then add the courgettes and continue to cook for another 5 minutes until cooked through.
  2. Put all of the BBQ sauce ingredients in a saucepan and heat, stirring until combined. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 1-2 minutes. Alternatively, put in a microwave safe bowl, covered and cook for 3 minutes, stirring half way through.
  3. Blend all of the stuffing ingredients, except for the onion and courgette, and 6 tbsp of the BBQ sauce to a rough paste. This is most easily done in a blender but if you don’t have one, mash by hand until the beans are roughly crushed and the seasoning is incorporated.
  4. Stir the onions and courgettes into the rest of the stuffing mixture.
  5. Place the pepper halves in an ovenproof dish and fill each with stuffing.  The stuffing holds its shape well so you can be quite generous filling the peppers. If you have a lot of stuffing left over see the “tasty twists” sections for ideas to use it up.
  6. Put the peppers in the oven at 160C and bake for about 30 minutes until the peppers are starting to soften and the top of the stuffing is getting a bit crispy. Serve with the rest of the BBQ sauce and a salad.

A few tips to prep ahead: 

  • Make the BBQ sauce and keep it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.
  • Make the stuffing and keep it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.
  • You can even stuff the peppers and keep them in an ovenproof dish in the fridge, covered, for up to 4-5 days if you have room in your fridge.

Some tasty little twists…

  • Use the stuffing to fill marrow or squash, or top large mushrooms. For harder vegetables such as the marrow and squash you may need to bake them, wrapped in foil for 20-30 minutes before stuffing them to allow them to soften.
  • This also makes a good stuffing for squid tubes. This quantity of stuffing fills about 6 large squid tubes.
    • Clean the squid tubes, put them on an ovenproof tray and fill with stuffing.
    • Brush the outside of the squid tubes with extra BBQ sauce and put the squid under a medium grill for 4-8 minutes per side, until the squid is cooked through (it should be opaque all the way through), the stuffing is warm and the surface of the squid has started to brown. Turn the squid carefully to avoid the stuffing falling out!
  • Extra stuffing makes nice bean patties (or you can just use it all to make patties if you prefer them to stuffed peppers / other vegetables / squid).
    • Put tbsp of the stuffing mixture on a non-stick baking tray (I like to use a non-stick silicon baking sheet on a tray as it stops the patties sticking). If you don’t have a non-stick tray, use lightly oiled baking parchment.
    • Bake at 160C for 20-30 minutes. The patties should have darkened on the outside and gone crispy but not be too dry on the inside.
  • Bump up the vegetable content of the stuffing by adding 250g of spaghetti squash or other winter squash (e.g. butternut, queen). Steam the squash and mash / blend it with the beans and seasonings (step 3 above).
  • The BBQ sauce makes and nice glaze for meat or vegetables: brush the sauce over sliced vegetables, fish or meat (e.g. steak, fish fillet, chicken pieces) then bake, grill or BBQ until cooked through, turning halfway through. Kebab work very well like this: thread chunks vegetable (e.g. courgette, peppers or aubergine make good kebab), pieces of meat, fish or seafood (prawns work well), brush with sauce and cook under the grill (probably about 3-6 minutes per side).

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