I have two different ways that I prepare Stuffed Peppers; one kind is made using Cubanelle or frying peppers, and this way using the more familiar Bell peppers. This is the classic recipe my mother always made which I grew up on. At another time I will share with you my recipe for the stuffed frying peppers.
Peppers in any color combination–green, red, yellow, orange–are stuffed with a mixture of seasoned ground beef and rice then covered in a tomato sauce and baked until tender. Sometimes I serve them with pasta such as rotini to soak up the sauce, or I might serve them with mashed potatoes and another vegetable like carrots. It makes a very colorful plate. The peppers may be oven baked or cooked in a slow cooker.
- 4 nicely shaped bell peppers, tops, seeds and membranes removed.
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
- 1 cup cooked white rice
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 (14.5 0z. can tomato sauce) or jarred spaghetti sauce
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the peppers in boiling water for 4-5 minutes. Remove the peppers, rinse with cold water, and set aside to drain.
- Mix together ground beef, cooked rice, egg, chopped onion, bread crumbs, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Combine well.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Divide beef and rice mixture evenly among the peppers, taking care not to pack too tightly.
- Place peppers standing up in a baking dish or shallow roasting pan. It’s best if they fit rather snugly so they can support each other.
- Pour the tomato sauce over all.
- Bake in the preheated oven until tender, basting with the tomato sauce several times while baking, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
- Alternately, place peppers standing up in a slow cooker, pour sauce over all, and cook on LOW 6-8 hours.
One of the things I like to have on hand at all times is Marinara Sauce. This is the basic tomato sauce that I use the most. This got me to thinking that from time to time I would write about foods that I consider “kitchen basics”, and this is one of them. It is extremely easy to make, and so worthwhile because it is so versatile. During the time the sauce is simmering you can be doing something else. This is a nice thick sauce that is great with any pasta shape. If you think it needs to be thinned down a little for a particular recipe you can add a little white wine to it. It can also handle the addition of meatballs or sausage, and you can certainly add additional seasonings to your taste.
This recipe makes about 2 quarts (8cups); 3-4 cups will serve 4 over pasta.
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (note; use a good quality EVOO, one with a fruity flavor, because this enhances the sauce.)
- 2 small onions, chopped
- 2 garlic gloves, finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and grated
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 2 ( 32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes (note: here too, be sure to use the best canned ones you can find, preferably the San Marzano variety.)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano (my preference)
In a large sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Saute until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, bay leaves and any other seasonings you prefer, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens,about an hour. Remove bay leaves and discard. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste.
I like to double this recipe when I make it, so I can freeze the extra in 2-3 cup portions in freezer bags, or containers; then it’s ready when I need some.
Source: Giada De Laurentis, “Everyday Italian”, with slight modifications.