These tasty ideas are both hearty and inexpensive.

Who doesn't love stuffing? First, there's our nostalgic attachment to Thanksgiving, but there's so much more to love. Let's be honest: Sticking one delicious thing into another delicious thing is always a good idea. From hand pies to filled pastas to dumplings, to stuffed chops or chicken breasts, we can all get behind stuffing.

The magic of stuffing vegetables

And there may be no better vessel for stuffing than vegetables. Stuffing vegetables can take you from appetizer through dinner easily, from stuffed mushroom caps or mini sweet peppers on your pre-dinner buffet, to elegantly composed salad courses of stuffed cucumber boats or. From entrées like meaty stuffed peppers and hearty stuffed eggplants to side dishes like stuffed onions, once you start stuffing, you won't want to stop!

Best vegetables for stuffing

Vegetables with built-in hollows are great (like butternut squash), but any vegetable can be scooped to make room for stuffing. Don't hesitate to scrape the seeds from zucchini, or hollow out potatoes for potato boats, or remove the centers of whole onions.

Stuffing vegetables is a great way to use up leftovers

Stuffing vegetables is a terrific way of using up leftovers and stretching them to a second meal. Did you have roasted chicken and rice pilaf last night? Chop the chicken and blend it into the leftover rice, add some minced onion or garlic if you like, and stuff into halved acorn squashes for a whole new meal. Baking bell peppers filled with any leftovers you can imagine is easy to do and are fun to eat for the whole family.

Stuffed Mushrooms
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Stuffing vegetables with carbs

Vegetables and carbs are always pals, so think about stuffing them with everything from actual bread stuffing to potatoes or rice, polenta or pasta, or any kind of grain. If you have leftovers, you can absolutely stretch them by using them as stuffing for vegetables and create a whole new dish! Think about leftover creamy polenta baked in hollowed tomatoes and topped with an egg for lunch, or leftover couscous filling a hollowed yellow squash.

Stuffing vegetables with… more vegetables!

But they also love to be filled with more vegetables! Dorie Greenspan famously stuffs bell peppers with grape tomatoes for a wonderful vegetable side dish or light lunch. Beans are terrific for stuffing into vegetables, from baked beans filling hollowed out tomatoes to an eggplant filled with spicy chickpeas, they bring hearty texture and great protein to the party, making for fun vegetarian entrees.

7 stuffed vegetable recipes to try now

While stuffing vegetables is a great place to explore your creativity in the kitchen, here are a few of our favorite recipes to inspire you!