May 19, 2013

COOKING: Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

Every now and again a girl needs a nice home cooked meal. I've never been one to 'ooh' and 'ahh' over stuffed peppers...actually, who does? I guess, like, the mothers of baby stuffed peppers, perhaps? Wait, what? Now I'm making you picture a stuffed pepper in a diaper right before I tell you to eat them. Food writing: I'm doing it wrong. Rule #1: Don't talk about diapers. 

Okay, moving on to stuffed peppers of the inanimate variety. I generally find them blah and kind of depressing, but I do have a killer recipe from my late Grammy for really, really good stuffed peppers (this isn't it, sorry suckers!) that still elicits mouthwatering reactions from family members just thinking about them. 

Side note: I want someone to mourn my food decades in the future! Wouldn't it feel great to know that people are remembering your cooking after you're gone? I'll need to look into this, but in my experience being a sweet little Italian grandmother is a prerequisite. 

Her recipe calls for SIX HOURS of slow pan frying, which isn't the kind of thing for which I have the time/patience/sanity. No wonder hers were so good. For a quicker fix, I've developed this yummy alternative.

What You Need
+ About 1.5 Cups of Brown Rice, Prepared (Insider tip: you can buy pouches of cooked brown rice at Trader Joe's for like $1.50 if you feel like treating yourself to a shortcut. I sure did.)
+ Handful of Panko Breadcrumbs (or regular if you prefer)
+ Garlic (A clove or so. I add more depending on how Italian I'm feeling in the kitchen that day)
+ Onion
+ Bell Peppers
+ Veggie Sausage (I used Gimme Lean, which I think is just okay)
+Grated Parmesan and/or Romano
+ Olive Oil (I used the garlic infused one from Trader Joe's which is SO GOOD, you guys)
+ About 1 Cup of Water

How To Make It
Wash the peppers and cut them in half lengthwise. Most people cut off the tops, which you can do instead, but I find this shape easier to eat.

Chop the onion and mince the garlic. 
I like to use a lot of garlic, but then again I did once eat so much garlic for dinner that I had to go home sick from work the next day, so maybe I'm not the best judge here. Learn from me: a whole bulb is not okay. It will HURT your stomach. Ugh, here I go again. Food Writing Rule #2: Do not talk about stomach pain.

Brown the veggie sausage in the olive oil for 5 minutes, breaking it up into smaller pieces as you cook. This stuff is like paste, but I found a potato masher helpful for this task.

Add the onions and garlic and cook until those are soft, about 2 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the cooked brown rice and cook for another minute.

Season the bell peppers liberally with salt and pepper.

Spoon the stuffing mixture into the bell peppers. I had enough left over for another pepper or two, so either make more peppers or eat that plain. Or I hear dogs will help with this.

Mix the panko breadcrumbs and grated cheese and sprinkle over the tops of the peppers. I also sprayed mine with a little cooking oil to make sure they got brown. Alternately, you can add a TON of shredded cheese here, which is what most people seem to do. Both are acceptable and delicious, no judgies.

You're going to want to cook these in a casserole dish or something similar. Pour the water into the dish through the empty space between the peppers. I used a shot glass. It also works to do this before you put the peppers in the dish, but I totally forgot so I had to get creative. The peppers will sit on the shallow water (should be enough to cover the pan) and the heat of the oven will "steam" them cooked.

Bake in a 350 degree (F) oven for about 30 minutes.

This is a simple (even simpler when you're not taking pictures and getting your camera lens all steamy over a hot pan) dish that gives you plenty of leftovers for the week and reheats well. Try them out if you want a yummy, customizable dinner that looks great in a diaper. Nooo! I've done it again! 



  1. That sounds delicious, but for the fact that I'm not one for rice. Haha. Any ideas on what would act as a half-decent substitution?

    1. I would recommend either leaving the rice out and replacing it with a veggie mix (any combination of broccoli, mushrooms, halved cherry tomatoes, zucchini or sauteed spinach would be delicious) or using another starch like couscous or quinoa. Israeli couscous is good for things like this too because it is larger than traditional couscous. Beans would be good too!

  2. Why have I never made stuffed peppers? I love red peppers :D

    1. I used to never make them until I had the same realization! You can make any kind of delicious mashup and stuff it in a pepper. Done.

  3. Yum, these look amazing and so easy to make!

  4. Mmmmmmmm as a vegetarian myself I have to say these look DELISH! Thanks for visiting my blog!

    1. Thanks - they totally were! Even better the next day.

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