Monday, March 10, 2014

Stuffed Peppers

Here is my take on a stuffed pepper recipe.  We particularly love this filling, it's great even on its own as a kind of goulash.  But of course having it in a tender stuffed pepper is more healthful and delicious as well.  ☺  I have been pulling these little yummies out of the freezer, one at a time, for easy lunches since I made a full batch.  That's two dinners worth for us.  You can use white or brown rice, quinoa or even a mix of your choosing.  I recently discovered that using a rice cooker gives the best quinoa I have ever had, especially since I combined my red and white quinoa.  (They cook at different rates.)  Rice cooker makes them both perfect, hooray!  No more mushy, crunchy quinoa.  Remember to rinse your quinoa very well if using, to get that soapy coating off.  I have tried this recipe as an "unstuffed pepper" casserole, and while it was good, the chopped peppers I used should have been stir-fried or slightly steamed first to make them more tender.  They were a bit crunchy just throwing them in raw and baking.  I like the little packages you get with a true stuffed pepper though.  Your choice as to whether or not to leave the stem intact for presentation.

Stuffed Peppers
Serves 8

4 large red or orange bell peppers
1 tbsp butter or olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 lb mild Italian sausage
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup cooked rice or quinoa (or a mixture of the two)
1 cup salsa
½ cup sour cream
½ cup chopped green onions
1½ cups shredded pepper jack cheese, divided
2 dashes Tabasco (optional)
fresh ground pepper

fresh basil for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.   Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and take out the seeds and ribs.  Set aside in a casserole dish.  Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter and onions.  Cook for about a minute then add the sausage and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent and the sausage is cooked through.  Turn off the heat.  Add the salsa, rice or quinoa, sour cream and green onions.  Sprinkle half the cheese over the mixture and fold in evenly until the mixture is well combined.  Divide and stuff the mixture into the peppers.  Add about ¼ cup water to the bottom of the dish if to help the peppers bake up tender.  Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to cook until heated through and golden on top, 15 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped basil and enjoy.

If making to eat and freeze, bake the whole batch and freeze the cooked leftovers, covered in foil.  Then reheat as desired.  The peppers will release more moisture during the reheat, but they still taste great.

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