So, how tasty does that bad boy look?  Well, I assure you, my friend, it’s just as delicious as it looks.  Stuffed bell peppers are a classic go-to dish for many families, with good reason.  Each has their own spin on this time-tested recipe, adjusting spices and ingredients to include their own favorite flavors.  The recipe below is easily made, easily customized, and easily enjoyed by all.  I’ll give you a simple recipe that stands proudly on its own but also lends itself to other flavors and ingredients.  Change up the type of meat to turkey, pork, or a combination; add extra veggies like mushrooms or carrots; give it a Southwestern twist with corn, black beans, and salsa, or go Italian with marinara sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 large bell peppers, halved from top to bottom and seeded
  • 1/2 c. brown rice
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1 – 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained, juice reserved
  • 1 1/2 shredded Colby/Jack cheese
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 1 T. salt
  • 1/4 c. parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 c. ketchup
  • 2 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 t. soy sauce

First, preheat the oven to 350 and put on a large pot of salted water to boil.  While you wait, prepare the peppers.  When you’re choosing peppers, look for the roundest, most symmetrical ones you can find.  This will help ensure you have nice, deep halves for the filling, and similarly-sized portions.  I like to cut them in half, through the stem to the bottom.  Then, scoop, or cut, out the seeds and as much of the white membrane as you can, leaving the stem in place.  The stem will come off easily after cooking and helps to give the pepper some stability while you’re handling it and transferring it to and from the baking dish.  Place the halves in the boiling water and boil for 3-4 minutes, until tender but still firm.  Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to cool and dry.

Now, add the rice to the boiling water and cook until soft.  I used instant brown rice and cooked it a minute or two less than the instructions stated.  Drain the rice and set aside.

While the rice is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil and onion. Cook the onion until slightly soft, about 5 minutes, and add the meat, salt, and pepper.  Brown the meat, breaking it up as much as you can along the way.  Add the garlic and cook another minute or two more.  My beef was so lean, I didn’t have any grease, but if you need to drain off any fat, now is the time.

Next, add the drained tomatoes, rice, and parsley.  Let the mixture cook a few more minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed or evaporated.  Remove from the heat and let cool about 20 minutes.

When the mix is cool enough, add half of the cheese and combine.  Then, spoon the mix into your pepper halves, being sure to pack it into all the crannies.  Place the peppers into an 8×8 baking dish, sprayed with cooking spray or lightly greased.

Now, mix the reserved tomato juice, ketchup, Worcestershire, and soy into a sauce and generously spoon over the peppers.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, then remove them and add the remaining cheese to the tops.  Turn the oven up to 375 and bake another 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.  Take them out and let them rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

 

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