Stuffed Bell Peppers

This is a main dish and is very filling. (At least I think so.) You might want to plan on a light side dish, or at least not something massive and heavy.

Stuffed bell peppers, assorted colors.

Stuffed bell peppers, assorted colors.

You can use any color bell pepper you wish — or a colorful assortment. Different varieties of bell pepper have different flavors. Green peppers have a sharper flavor than red, orange and yellow peppers which are often referred to as “sweeter” than the green varieties. They aren’t sweet, but rather have a milder “bell pepper” flavor than the green varieties. Some people don’t like the flavor of green bell peppers, so using a variety of colors may be a hit with friends and family members. 🙂 I like the festive look of a variety of colors, but note than yellow and orange bell peppers look pretty much alike after they’re cooked. If the color scheme is important, keep that in mind. 🙂

4 large bell peppers, any color
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1 pkg Smart Ground
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp parsley
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp paprika (for spicier use Hungarian hot paprika, but you might want to use less)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Olive oil
A few oz cheese or vegan cheese

Chop onion finely. It doesn’t have to be diced, but it definitely shouldn’t be coarsely chopped. Smaller pieces integrate into the sauce and fit the peppers better. Run the garlic through a garlic press or mince. Saute over medium heat in a medium size saucepan, using a small amount of olive oil, until onions are translucent. Add Smart Ground, breaking up with a spoon. Add tomato sauce. Stir well. Add seasonings and simmer over low heat while preparing the peppers.

Core peppers and remove seeds and ribs as much as you can. I use a small paring knife, then use my fingers to remove ribs and seeds. (You may need to rinse out the last few seeds.) Place peppers in 1 1/2 qt casserole and fill dish about halfway with water. Cover and microwave 4 minutes to partially steam peppers.

Some recipes I’ve seen call for boiling the peppers or blanching them to partially cook them before stuffing them. I don’t, but feel free to give that a try if you think it would work better than the pre-cooking in the microwave.

Stir panko bread crumbs into stuffing mixture. Remove from heat. Stuff peppers using a small spoon. You will probably have a small amount of the mixture left over, depending on the size of the peppers. Refrigerate this: it makes a good sandwich the next day. 🙂

Sliced in half.

Sliced in half.

Bake, in dish half-full of water, covered, 350 for 30 minutes. Grate, slice or crumble cheese (or vegan cheese), depending on type of cheese and your own preference. I’ve always used cheddar, but there are a number of varieties cheese (or vegan cheese) which would be good with this. The cheese is a nice finishing touch, but if you want to leave it off, you can. Put cheese in the top opening of the peppers or on top so that when melted the top has a nice cheesy plug of melted cheese. Bake uncovered another 10 mins or until cheese is melted or toasty.

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