Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Italian Stuffed Peppers

Eating bell peppers is a new thing for me. I didn't like them when I was a kid, but I've been trying very hard to try things that I didn't like back then. Red, orange, and yellow bell peppers were easy for me to like, but green bell peppers still aren't my favorite, especially if they're raw. Last week I got four green bell peppers in my Bountiful Basket and I wasn't sure what to do with them. I decided I wanted to try stuffed peppers.

I looked at at least a dozen recipes on the internet. There are so many variations! Italian, Southwestern, Creole, traditional...and I bet they are all pretty good! I saw a few that called for sausage instead of ground beef, and that sounded really good, so I knew I wanted to try one with sausage. I finally settled on one I found on Pinterest. It called for turkey Italian sausage, which I happened to find on "manager's special" at the grocery store. Perfect!

Many recipes said to boil the peppers before you stuff them, but some recipes and several reviews of other recipes said to skip that step. You know me, I'm all about doing things the easy way, so of course, I did not boil the peppers. I stuffed them raw and threw them in the oven. After 40 minutes they were crisp tender, which is how I like vegetables. Next time I might try leaving them in the oven for an extra 10 minutes, but that's more to please my hubby, who thinks a vegetable isn't cooked if there's any "crisp" left to it.

I also streamlined a couple things from the original recipe. The original recipe said to slice the tops off the peppers and stuff them upright, but I opted to cut them in half lengthwise to create eight servings instead of just four. It really wouldn't make a difference, so you do them however you'd like! The author of the original recipe said to chop up the tops (stems excluded of course) of the peppers, but since I didn't cut the tops off my peppers, I added in 1/4 of a red bell pepper I had in my fridge. I omitted the olive oil in the original recipe and just lightly sprayed the baking dish and the frying pan with olive oil cooking spray. I also added a can of tomato sauce.

Italian Stuffed Peppers

adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen

1 c. uncooked long-grain rice (I only had white, so that's what I used)
4 large bell peppers (I had green but any color would be fabulous)
1/4 large onion, finely diced (if you love onions, add more)
1/4 red bell pepper, finely diced 
10 oz. Italian seasoned turkey (that's half a package)
1/2 tsp. ground fennel OR fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
salt & pepper to taste
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1/4 c. shredded mozzarella

Cook rice according to package directions. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Halve the green peppers lengthwise and hollow them out by removing the seeds and white membranes. Trim a little off the backs of the peppers so they lay flat. Place in a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.

Spray a skillet with cooking spray. Add turkey, onion, and red bell pepper. Cook until turkey is no longer pink and onions and peppers are soft. Add fennel, oregano, Parmesan, rice, tomato sauce, and salt & pepper. Cook just long enough to heat through.

Stuff mixture into peppers, packing it in tightly with a spoon. Bake for 30 minutes. Top with mozzarella and bake another 10-15 minutes.

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