Can you believe I never made stuffed peppers before? I was never a big fan of stuffed peppers, until a few years ago they bored me. I like the ones my guy makes occasionally with a ground beef filling, so when I saw this recipe on Kalyn’s Kitchen blog, I decided to give this healthy version a try.
I am a fan. They have everything you want in a stuffed pepper: nutty brown rice filling, spicy sausage and vegetables, and just enough cheese on top to take it to the comfort food level.
Although I’m not a stuffed pepper aficionado, I’m declaring this a pretty flexible recipe. I added mushrooms, garlic and hot red pepper flakes to give the filling some extra oomph. Some brands of chicken and turkey sausage are bland, but others are really good, your luck will depend on your store’s selection. If you’re stuck with boring links, you could substitute a fattier, but perhaps tastier, pork sausage. And of course you could increase the cheese.
If you don’t have time to make brown rice, you could use white, but you miss out on the nutty brown rice flavor. I used some of the Perfect Brown (and Wild) Rice I had in the freezer. Jim just wiped out the rest of my stock when he made stir-fry the other night so I better make more.
I was very pleased with this recipe and will definitely make it again, probably after I snag some bell peppers on sale. It was a good meal for a cold night, definitely meeting the comfort food requirements.
I served the peppers with roasted root vegetables – beets, rutabagas, parsnips, sweet potatoes and regular potatoes – and, since I can’t bear wasting, sautéed beet greens.
Stuffed Green Peppers with Brown Rice, Italian Sausage and Parmesan
You’ll need a baking dish just large enough to hold the peppers and a large skillet.
- 1 cup long-grain brown and wild rice, cooked
- 4 large green bell peppers, bottom trimmed just enough so the pepper can stand up straight, cap end cut off and diced, seeds removed
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2/3 cup chopped mushroom
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 links turkey or chicken Italian sausage (or any sausage of your choice)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 375F. Spray baking dish with non-stick spray or brush it with oil. Place hollowed-out peppers in the dish. If you like your peppers to be soft and not at all crispy, you could boil them for 3-5 minutes. You can tell by the photo that mine got soft enough (crisp-tender) without pre-boiling.
Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet, and sauté the diced pepper and onion for 3-4 minutes, until starting to soften but not brown. Remove pepper-onion mixture to a bowl, add 1 teaspoon more oil, squeeze sausage out of the casing and cook until it’s lightly browned, breaking apart with a spoon or spatula.
Put the onion-pepper mixture back into the pan with the sausage, add the spices, and sauté 2-3 minutes to blend the flavors. Add cooked rice and Parmesan cheese, season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste, and cook just long enough to warm it, about 1-2 minutes.
Stuff the filling mixture into the hollowed-out peppers, using a spoon to press the mixture down so it’s tightly packed. If you have any extra filling, you can put it in a small ramekin and bake alongside the peppers.
Bake peppers for 30 minutes, then remove from oven and put a tablespoon of mozzarella on top of each pepper. Put peppers back into the oven and bake about 10-15 minutes more, until cheese is melted and lightly browned. Serve hot.
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