Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Stuffed Peppers

Unlike the typical 9 to 5 job, I work 4-10 hour days.  The days are undeniably long, but a weekly 3-day weekend more than makes up for my intense workweek.  It’s like a weekly mini-vacation.  My favorite part of my three-day weekend is Sunday.  Not working on Mondays, Sunday has been transformed from a somber, stressful affair, focused on preparing for the workweek, into a relaxing and delightful day.  I spend most of my Sunday evenings hunkered down at a good friend’s house in Denver, sipping vodka, eating antipasto, and verbally dissecting the world at large.  Our Sunday meal is typically low maintenance; however, this Sunday, my friend expressed a hankering for stuffed peppers, which I have never made before, and I quickly accepted the challenge, and the change of pace.

When I went to the store, red bell peppers just happened to be on sale, and the whole scenario seemed meant to be.  I went with an Italian theme for the peppers.  I didn’t grow up eating them, so I wasn’t exactly sure what the traditional flavor profile would be, so I chose the direction I know and love best: Italian.  I used ground beef, sausage, rice, tomatoes, basil, onions, garlic, pesto, and, of course, cheese.  I chose a combination of ground beef and sausage because I felt that sausage exclusively would be too fatty and rich; a lot of pasta sauces have both in them, so why not my stuffed peppers?  It turned out lovely, but I will warn you to make sure your stuffing is well seasoned.  The stuffing seasons the actual pepper, in addition to the filling, so over-seasoning a tad is wise.   I used diced tomatoes and a can of sauce for tomato products, but a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste added to the beef and onions would work well; despite the double hit of tomato, a little more would have brought warmly welcomed depth of flavor.  Cheese, glorious cheese, was naturally a pivotal ingredient, and it renders the pepper filling a complete dish in and of itself (we gleefully ate spoonfuls from the pan).  The peppers are stuffed, put in a baking dish with a touch of chicken broth (white wine would also be nice), and sealed with foil before baking.  When they are just about done, they are blanketed in cheese, and broiled.  I chose a combination of mozzarella and asiago, but a sticking solely with a young asiago would be lip-smacking good.  Pick your poison.   

Stuffed Peppers

1/2 lb. ground sirloin
1/2 lb. mild Italian sausage
1 cup rice
2 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups shredded cheese (such as mozzarella, asiago, parmesan, or a combination)
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
6-ounce can of tomato sauce
1/2 cup good quality pesto
1/4 cup basil chiffonade
4-6 bell peppers
Salt, pepper, red chile flakes, oregano

-       Preheat oven to 375 degrees
-       Prepare rice by adding it to 2 cups of simmering chicken stock.  Cover and simmer for 15-20, lifting lid as little as possible.  Set aside when finished.
-       Prepare peppers by cutting of the top, and removing seeds and large ribs.  Set aside in a 9x13 inch baking dish.
-       Preheat a large skillet over medium heat with oil.  Add ground beef and sausage, breaking up chunks with a wooden spoon or spatula.
-       When meat is broken up and beginning to brown, drain excess fat.  Then add onion and minced garlic.  Season with salt, pepper, oregano, and red chile flakes (about 1/2 teaspoon of each, maybe more salt, and little less hot pepper flakes).  Cook until onion and meat is cooked through, stirring occasionally.
-       Add rice, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce (if you want it more tomato-y in flavor, add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste with the onions).  Stir to combine, taste, and re-season. 
-       Turn off heat and add basil, pesto, and 1/2 the cheese.
-       Fill each of the peppers until heaping with rice and tomato mixture.  This recipe makes enough for about 6 medium-sized peppers, and the rice mixture also is very tasty on its own.
-       Place filled peppers, standing up, in the baking dish, and add remaining chicken broth (or better yet, white wine).  Cover the dish with aluminum foil.

-       Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Remove peppers from the oven, and turn on the broiler.  Put remaining cheese on each pepper, then place under the broiler until browned and bubbling.


  1. grandma T made stuffed peppers - I love them and will have to try your recipe!

    1. You love everything, DeborahK. That's why you are so lovely to be around. But can we get some healthier recipes on this Blog. I'm trying to watch what I eat. What is a Blog by the way...I mean what is the definition of the word and where did it come from. Couldn't we come up with a better word for this thing.

    2. Excuse me, "anonymous," a blog is short for a "web log." Duh! And every time I do healthier recipes, no one likes them. I can show you the stats. Waffle bacon grilled cheese gets way more hits than salad. Every time. With that being said, I do have a great new cook book that you might like on hearty salads for dinner. So delish.