In this busy season, sometimes you just need a fast, inexpensive, easy go-to for dinner – something that you can throw together with what yo have on hand and is forgiving if you need to substitute ingredients – Stuffed Peppers fit that bill perfectly. I’ve posted directions for making a light, Italian version, but you can change up nearly everything in the recipe: the spices, the sauce, the meat (or leave it out entirely), the type of cheese, and even the rice. I once made them with leftover Cajun Rice and Beans and they were great!
You may notice that I use red and yellow peppers here: I never like green peppers as a kid, and the fact is I still don’t like them all that much. But red, orange and yellow peppers are a whole different story – not only are they beautiful, but they’re great sliced raw for dipping, and I love the rich, savory flavors they take on when baked, roasted, barbequed or sautéed. We served these beauties with a simple green salad and a side of cottage cheese, and everyone was happy.
- ¾ lb ground turkey (and/or Morning Star Griller Crumbles)
- ½ Tbls olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ medium sweet onion, finely chopped
- 1 small zucchini, finely chopped
- 1 Tablespoon Pizza Seasoning*
- 1 clove garlic (I tend to use more)
- salt to taste
- 4 large sweet red bell peppers
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- ¼ cup spaghetti sauce
- 1½ cups cooked brown rice
- 2 oz cheddar cheese, grated
- 2 oz mozzarella, part skim milk, grated
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Brown ground turkey (and/or heat up the Griller Crumbles). Season to taste and set aside.
- In a medium skillet, sauté onion in olive oil over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add zucchini and garlic and sauté an additional 2 minutes. Season with salt and pizza seasoning, and stir in spaghetti sauce and vegetable stock. Simmer 5 minutes. Combine cooked rice, sauce, and mozzarella. If you are making both Omni and Veggie-friendly portions, divide the rice and sauce mixture into appropriately at this point. Stir in meat or meat substitute.
- Cut the peppers in half lengthwise, remove all seeds and place in a baking dish. Spoon the rice mixture into each pepper half and fill it with as much as you can. (I use my hands for this - pack it in lightly and mound it up on top.) Place all stuffed pepper halves in a glass baking dish and pour the remainder of the vegetable stock into the bottom of the pan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake in 400° oven for 35 minutes. Uncover, top with grated cheddar and bake an additional 5 minutes.
- Ground turkey alone can have about as much taste as an dry sponge. When I use it, I tend to season it up while I’m browning it, with liberal squirts of Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and whatever else I think tastes good. (Note: Do not use regular Worcestershire sauce to season veggie-meat-substitute unless your Veggie is OK with fish: Worcestershire sauce is made with anchovies.) Of course, you can use anything you want – mild Italian sausage in these tastes fab.
- At some point, I’ll do a post about Veggie Meat-Substitutes – the awesome, the awful, and the average – but until then, I will say that Morning Star products rarely let me done.
- I get Pizza Seasoning in the bulk section at Winco, but if you don’t have any, you can use 3/4 tsp. dried oregano, 3/4 tsp. dried basil, ¼ tsp. garlic powder, pinch each of fennel seed, thyme and dried red pepper flakes.
- The portion sizes in this recipe may seem a little on the smaller side – ½ stuffed pepper per – but I find them to be very filling, and two half-peppers is just be way too much for me. Of course, you can always eat two. Or three. And in the interest of full disclosure, my kids – both Omni & Veggie – love the “insides” but pass the actual pepper to Mr. B.
Finally, as I was getting ready to post this, I realized that my photo had the weird exposure and feel of old 1950’s menu picture: improving my photography skills is definitely on the agenda! (And I know the Ivy dishes don’t help, but I love them anyway.) Please try to be understanding.