Stuffed peppers used to be the in thing for Fall and Winter comfort food. One of the great things about them is you can make them ahead of time and just re-heat! But even though they have been put on the back burner (so to speak), delicious and easy stuffed peppers will still make a fabulous dinner for the whole family. Here’s a basic recipe with a few variations and a few different ideas for a sauce topping. Let your individual tastes guide how you’re going to make a customized meal for your family or guests. So many possibilities, so little time…
Basic Stuffed Peppers
This recipe will yield 8 medium sized stuffed pepper servings. Enjoy with a meat or veggie side or both. Or double up and have two for dinner! The beauty of this recipe is you can change it up depending on your tastes. Add or subtract spices and extra ingredients to this basic recipe to customize it for your family.
4 medium-large bell peppers- any colour (slicing vertically from stem down)
1 1/4 lb. lean ground beef (or combine with part or half pound of ground pork,veal, turkey)
1/2 medium cooking onion- finely chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic-minced
1 cup of cooked rice
1 cup diced canned (drained) or fresh diced tomatoes
1-2 tsp. of powdered beef bouillon for flavour
Salt & pepper
Good shake of basil
1/2 cup of liquid chicken or beef broth
Method: Step 1
Slice and clean peppers. (Slicing vertically gives you two smaller but equal cups to use for servings.) If desired, you can slice a thin piece off the bottom of each pepper cup to enable them to stand straight. Place side by side in a shallow casserole or baking pan.
In a saucepan, on medium heat, add ground meat along with onions, garlic (if using), diced tomatoes, breaking up the meat mixture as you cook.
Sprinkle mixture with desired spices, salt and pepper and two teaspoons powdered beef bouillon.
At end of cooking mix in your 1 cup of cooked rice and any preferred *optional additions below, so they do not overcook. Let cool slightly in the saucepan. Fill each cup to the top. Now you can add the liquid chicken or beef broth to the bottom of the baking pan.
1/2 cup of shredded cheddar or whatever cheese
1/2 lb. mushrooms finally chopped
2 green onions finally chopped
1/2 cup peas or other vegetables
Method: Step 2
Pre-heat your oven to 350 F.
If you prefer a drier stuffed pepper you can bake without any topping, or with just cheese on top. Be sure to place the foil tightly over the top of the baking dish. Bake for about 30 minutes. Then spoon the liquid from the bottom of the pan over the peppers, replace the foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. If adding shredded cheese, take out of the oven and sprinkle with the cheese about 10 minutes before the end of baking time.The little bit of broth you will be baking the stuffed peppers in will keep the peppers tender and will help steam them a little.
Adding a sauce
And if you prefer a delicious sauce over the peppers while they bake, spoon the liquid tomato or soup-based sauces over the peppers and bake for about 45-50 minutes.Adding the slightly thinned tomato sauce spooned over the peppers and then baking them and topping with cheese makes a tasty stuffed pepper. And you can do the same with any of the optional soups below.
*However, if adding the shredded cheese to the peppers with the sauce topping, remember to add it only for the last 10 minutes of baking time.
1 cup shredded cheese ( cheddar, mozzarella, monterey jack or combination) alone or on top of the sauce.
Thinned tomato sauce (obtained by adding a little water or broth)
1 1/2 cup mushroom, cream of chicken, or cream of celery soup that is not condensed.
This Fall and Winter- try these customized stuffed peppers to raise the comfort levels. Your family will love this versatile dish and you will soon discover that the only limitations are your personal tastes.