I write this title with such enthusiasm because it's been so long since I've had stuffed peppers...
Stuffed peppers were a dish of my childhood - I have no idea of the origins of this food trend, but somewhere along the way stuffed vegetables became a decidedly Jewish food, and my upbringing was thoroughly populated with stuffed eggplant, stuffed zucchini, stuffed cabbage, and, of course, stuffed peppers.
Somehow, though, stuffed peppers had slipped somewhere into the margins of my mental catalog of familial dishes that I prepared in my own kitchen - until tonight, when I came home from class and Zach wandered out from the kitchen and said, "I want to make stuffed peppers - can you find me a recipe?"
(Chef Zach with his stuffed pepper creation)
Ah, the memories of stuffed peppers. We fixed a slightly different version than the one I grew up with - partly because my mother never wrote down the instructions she received from her mother-in-law, and more significantly because I wanted a dish somewhat lighter than the "traditional" stuffed veggies of my recollections, which were very rich...
Several scrumptious mouthfuls of stuffed pepper and one morning later, I am reminded of how perfectly stuffed veggies frame vegetables in a main dish role, quite fitting for a re-energized new year table. While I've honestly never made an official New Year's resolution, over the holidays Zach and I did decide that, upon returning to our home in 2009, we wanted to include a more extensive variety of veggies at every meal... We've always eaten plentiful veggies, but sometimes its easy to commit oneself to, say, a large pot of greens, and forget that having winter squash along with those greens would make the meal even more balanced. I was so proud of us last night - to go along with the stuffed bell peppers Zach was preparing, I fixed some lightly steamed green peas, whole wheat pasta with lots of sauteed mushrooms, and stewed beets...
Here's to a rejuvenated, healthful 2009!
Stuffed Bell Peppers
6 green bell peppers 3 T olive oil 1 onion, chopped 1 clove of garlic, chopped 1 lb lean ground beef OR 1 lb. tempeh, finely chopped 8 oz smoked sausage, casings removed and sausage crumbled OR 8 oz "sausage style" soy crumbles 3 cups cooked brown rice 1 (28 oz) can chopped tomatoes 1 tsp oregano Barbecue Sauce or ketchup
~ Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. ~ Cut the very top off the peppers, and remove the seeds. ~ Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the peppers and boil until they are just slightly softened, then remove the peppers with tongs and set them aside to cool. ~ Over medium heat, in the olive oil, saute the onions and garlic until the onion is translucent. ~ Remove the skillet from heat, and mix together well the ground beef or tempeh, sausage or soy crumbles, rice, tomatoes, oregano, and rosemary, and season to taste with salt and pepper. ~ Coat the insides of the peppers with cooking spray, then place the peppers face down in a baking dish. ~ Fill each pepper with the rice stuffing mixture. ~ Generously coat the top of each stuffed pepper with barbecue sauce or ketchup. ~ Pour 1/4 cup water into the bottom of the baking dish. ~ Place the dish in the oven and bake for 45 minutes!