Cucumbers, green beans and zucchini have fizzled out in the garden. Welcome to the table peppers! Green Bell Peppers, Poblano Peppers and Jimmy Nardano Sweet Italian Peppers are all arriving with a flourish. According to Glenn, it’s about time. Stuffed peppers has got to be one of his all time favorite comfort foods. It happens to be one of those dishes that I only make this time of year. There’s just something different with the flavors of garden fresh peppers, ones we have grown ourselves. Ones purchased from our local farmer’s market are a close second. Grocery store varieties just don’t make the cut for some reason. I’m sure it’s all in our heads, but it is what it is 🙂 My version of stuffed peppers has morphed over the years, to the point, for our personal tastes, it’s perfect. This version leans to the Italian flavor profile. Thanks to my father-in-law’s input years ago, I’ve learned to make the meat stuffing much more flavorful. His trick was to saute some of the peppers and onions with the meat, then add a couple of peeled, garden tomatoes after browning the meat. Delicious! The tomato sauce I make is a simple three ingredient blend that is the perfect flavor booster for the stuffed peppers. I always make more than I need to serve on the side… as it makes a happy hubby!
10 large bell peppers, or equivalent of your choice
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 cup brown rice, prepared to package instructions
1 cup fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
Grated Parmesan Cheese
salt & pepper to taste
•Preheat oven to 375°F. Set aside a 9×13″ baking pan.
•Remove tops from peppers, reserving scraps for sauteing. Remove seeds. Place cleaned and cored peppers in a pot of boiling water and par-boil for 3-5 minutes, just until peppers begin to soften a bit. Drain in colander.
•Chop reserved pepper scraps in 1/2″ or so pieces. [I ended up with about 1/3 cup of pepper pieces]
•In a large skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and pepper scraps. Salt & pepper to taste. When they are just beginning to soften, add the ground beef. Salt and pepper to taste again. Cook until well browned.
•Meanwhile, remove skin from the tomatoes and chop in 1/2″ dice. [I score both ends of the tomato with an X and let it boil in the still hot pepper water until the skin begin to peel back for easier removal.]
•Drain excess fat from the pan. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and the prepared brown rice.
•In a large measuring cup, or a small bowl, prepare the sauce. Mix the 2 cups of tomato sauce with the 1/2 cup each of vinegar and brown sugar. Whisk well.
•Ladle a small amount of the blended tomato sauce on the bottom of your baking pan.
•Begin stuffing the peppers. The amount of stuffing will depend on the size of the peppers. My sweet Italian peppers will only hold about 1/4 cup of filling, where as the bell peppers hold about 1/2 cup. My rule of thumb is over-stuffed versus under-stuffed! If you end up with extra filling, just spoon it into the pan around the stuffed peppers. [You’ll thank me later!]
•Spoon a little tomato sauce on top of each pepper, and in between each pepper as well. Any remaining sauce can be heated in a small saucepan to serve on the side.
•Cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes, until heated thoroughly.
•Remove foil, sprinkle to taste with grated Parmesan cheese, return to oven for 5-8 minutes until cheese is slightly browned. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serve with the extra tomato sauce.