Monday, February 8, 2010

Sgt. Stuffed Pepper...

One thing that I never grew up eating but always thought I'd make for my own family is stuffed peppers. You've got your starch, protein and lots of veggies all in one cute little package. It's a fun concept, like bread in a bowl. Here is my attempt at stuffed peppers named in honor of the Beatles (greatest band of all time!).

Sgt. Stuffed Peppers

4 large green, yellow or red bell peppers; tops cut off peppers and seeds and membranes removed
1 small onion
1 tbsp of garlic
1 tsp dried basil or 1 tbsp of fresh
28 oz can of whole tomatoes; pulsed in the food processor until almost smooth, leave some small
1/2 tsp sugar
1 lb ground meat (turkey, beef, sausage; perhaps beans or tofu for a vegetarian option?)
1 carrot, chopped small (I chopped all the veggies in the food processor)
2 cups of cooked rice (brown or white)
1/2 cup or more shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute more.
Add the tomatoes, sugar and basil. When it comes to a boil, turn down the heat to a low simmer and continue to cook for 10 more minutes. Stir occasionally. Salt and pepper to taste. Put in a bowl and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Your rack should be in the middle position.

Add 1 tablespoon of oil, ground meat and carrots to a now empty pan (just use the same one as the tomato sauce, no need to wash it either!). Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook the meat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, about 7 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a bowl to cool. Leave as much of the oil behind as possible.

When the meat has cool down, dump all of it into a large mixing bowl. Add the rice, cheese, 2/3 of the tomato sauce and gently fold all the ingredients together until well combined.
Stuff each pepper with a generous amount of the filling, packing it down as you go. Place stuffed peppers in a baking dish (leave some space in between the peppers) and place in the oven for 45 minutes for a crisper pepper and an hour for a softer one.

Serve with the remainder of the tomato sauce heated up on the side.

You can even make these a day or two ahead and keep them in the fridge.

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