Funny story. I’m not allowed to make stuffed green peppers in my house.
And it’s not because of anything I did (for a change). It’s because when my wife, Sandi, was growing up her mother would serve stuffed green peppers at least once per week.
That’s because Sandi’s mom was, let’s just say, not terrifically skilled in the kitchen and stuffed green peppers was one of the few things she could make.
According to Sandi, her mom would make enormous batches of stuffed green peppers every few weeks then wrap them individually in recycled Wonder Bread bags and throw them in the freezer.
Whenever she was too busy to make dinner or didn’t feel like cooking — which apparently was quite often — out would come the Wonder Bread bags and Sandi and her sister would be served stuffed green peppers.
It was pretty much an unstated condition of our marriage that I would never make stuffed green peppers for Sandi ever, ever again.
And yet here we are.
Although I empathize with Sandi for her mother’s limited kitchen skills, I can also sympathize with her mom because stuffed green peppers are one of the simplest, most versatile and affordable dishes you can make. Especially when you have a couple of green bell pepper plants in your garden — like we did this summer — which produced more than a bushel of peppers each.
Plus, green peppers can be stuffed with almost anything. I usually use a rice and meat stuffing, and the meat could be ground beef, ground turkey or even leftover pork or chicken. But you could just as easily make a vegetarian version by using mushrooms or additional vegetables.
For this recipe I used a couple of hot Italian sausages I had in my freezer leftover from some pasta we had some time ago. Stuffed green peppers are fast, simple and delicious.
Sadly, it’s not something I can make anymore. At least not without invoking the wrath of Sandi.
Stuffed Green Peppers
4 Green Bell Peppers
3 cups Cooked Rice
1 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 White Onion, medium dice
1 or 2 Jalapenos, ribs and seeds removed, small dice
1 Garlic Clove, crushed
1 lb Ground Beef, Turkey, Italian Sausage or almost any other protein (optional)
2-6 oz cans Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan, plus additional for garnish
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, cut off tops of peppers, remove ribs, seeds and stems. Dice up the pepper tops and set aside. Drop peppers into boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes. Use a tongs to remove to a plate, pour out water, return peppers to pot and cover with cold water to stop cooking process.
2. Preheat oven to 350F. Place cast iron pan over a medium heat. When hot, add EVOO. When smoking, add onions, diced green pepper and jalapeno. Saute until onions are translucent, about 2 minutes, tossing frequently. Cut sausage from casings and add to pan, using a wooden spoon to break up into small peices and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until aromatic, about a minute. Remove from heat.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine rice, sausage mixture, tomato sauce — reserving about half of one can for garnish — and parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Use a teaspoon to stuff each pepper with the mixture generously.
4. Spray a round or square 8″ casserole dish with pan spray. Place any leftover rice and meat mixture on the bottom of the casserole dish, then place the stuffed green peppers top side up in the dish. Garnish the tops with remaining tomato sauce and a little parmesan. Cover with foil and cook for 30. Remove foil and cook for another 10 minutes to crisp up the tops a little.
Stuffed green peppers are delicious, economical and easy to make. Just not in my house.