I got the idea for this dish out of a cookbook my good friend Cheryl Vermilya gave to me a while back. The book’s title is “ Low Fat Mexican Recipes" and is full of great food! Cheryl and her husband David are great friends of mine who founded and operate a youth center in Camillus, NY called the Town Shop. If you have some time, click on the youth center’s website link right here: Town Shop Youth Center and check the place out. I spent the majority of my teenage years involved there, and loved every minute!
Now back to cooking! You can make stuffed peppers a variety of ways, but you should always look for wide based bell peppers, so that they stand up easier in the baking dish. I suggest using meat in this recipe, but as usual you can substitute meat with seasoned tofu, beans and corn, or whatever you like really. This dish can be made ahead of time as a planned meal with friends, and kept in the fridge for a day or two before the final baking.
Mexican stuffed peppers ingredients
4-8 good sized, wide-bottomed bell peppers (make it colorful if you can!)
1 pound ground beef, or turkey, or beens and corn, or tofu, etc.
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 medium diced onion
1 cup rice
3 tblsp diced hot chiles
16 oz. jar enchilada/Mexican sauce (make sure to check those ingredients for evil gluten!)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (chipotle cheddar is choice!)
First you want to get a pot of water boiling, and one that’s big enough to fit all of your bell peppers in. Cut the top of the peppers off and scoop out all the seeds. I often get the strays out by filling the pepper up with water and shaking and pouring them out. Submerge all the peppers (minus the tops) in the boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Take them out and place open side down on a paper towel to cool.
Keep the water boiling and throw in the cup of uncooked rice. Set the timer for 13 minutes, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
About the same time as you put the peppers in the boiling water, put a skillet on med/high heat and cook up the meat (or meat substitute). Make sure to chop it up real good while it’s cooking. When using meat, you can just use the juices to cook the chopped onions and hot peppers that you’ll be adding once the meat is nearly all browned. If you make this meatless, you’ll need to add a bit of butter or oil. Cook the meat/onion/hot pepper combo till the onions become semi-translucent. Add the Mexican/enchilada sauce, lower the heat to simmer until the rice is done.
Once the 13 minute timer goes off, drain the rice and throw back into the empty pot. Add the them all together in the pot and stir up. Then add your drained, diced tomatoes and any other vegetable or legume you want. Finally add a couple cups of shredded cheese to the mix and stir it all up.
Take the cooled bell peppers and fill them up with the rice/meat mixture and place them open side up in a baking dish. Make sure that they are steady and won’t easily topple over. Top them all off with a little bit more cheese and throw them in the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes and you are done. You’ll probably have extra “filling” that can be used in omelets, thrown in corn tortillas for tasty soft tacos, or simply reheated and eaten as is. Enjoy!