Sunday, August 1, 2010

Classic Stuffed Peppers


So I already admitted to you that I am not a big meat eater, which means that I don't make and post many "main dishes" here on The Cilantropist.  And while I know that main dishes can certainly be meatless, they still seem to be lacking.  Is this just because I love soups and salads so much?  Or is it something else?      


Because I don't really think this idea is as simple as "I don't eat much meat."  I think it means something different: I think it means that I don't yet have a family to feed, and that there are no little hungry mouths that are depending on me to provide them with a well-balanced meal.  And sure, I have a boyfriend (with a big hungry mouth to feed), but even he is not depending on me since he is currently more than 6,000 miles away.  When it comes down to it, I can really eat whatever tickles my fancy, because at this exact point in my life, the only person that I am responsible for is me.       



Is this is a luxury?  Many would say yes, and both my brain and my tastebuds would probably agree (who doesn't want cookies for dinner?).  I am sure more than a few of my readers would tell me to enjoy these carefree days while they last.  But I am just as sure that other readers would say that they throughly enjoy feeding their families and spouses, and although it is a responsibility, it is one they would never trade for anything.  And so while I do appreciate the luxury of languishing over a batch of ladyfingers or spending hours with my friend The Kitchen, I don't know that I actually want that luxury anymore; feeding people is really what I love the most about cooking, and my heart tells me that I want something more.



And so it is this type of thinking that makes this blog what it is: a smattering of all types of recipes from The Carefree Cilantropist that include crepes and pickles and more cookies plus recipes from The Responsible Cilantropist like roast chicken and these classic stuffed peppers.  Because whenever I do have a family, they will definitely love my cookies, but I will still have to feed them dinner.  



And these stuffed peppers really are the perfect meal for a family or a crowd.  Think about it: they have vegetable, meat, and starch all wrapped up in a perfect little pepper package.  The ingredients are not exotic and are relatively inexpensive, the recipe doesn't require any special techniques or exotic gadgets, and once they are prepared they hold up to refrigeration and freezing well.       



Now you might tell me that you have never been a huge fan of stuffed peppers. You might say that you don't really know why, but for whatever reason you don't count them among your favorite foods.  I absolutely feel the same way.  But recently, I have seen several recipes for variations on classic stuffed peppers that use orzo and feta or quinoa.  Seeing these yummy dishes made me think that I should revisit stuffed peppers and give them a second chance, but I figured I should master the basic recipe before I started doing anything crazy.  And you know what?  These stuffed peppers were fantastic, in the way that only a simple meal with simple ingredients can be.  So I would urge you to give these a try yourself.  You might just as surprised as I was, and you can feel good knowing you are eating a well-balanced meal.       







Classic Stuffed Peppers


4 yellow, orange or red peppers
3/4 lbs lean ground beef
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 1/2 cups or more diced sweet onions (about 1/2 of one large onion)
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp fresh parsley, diced
Salt
1 8-oz. can of tomato sauce
1 14.-oz. can of stewed Italian tomatoes, Italian recipe (with basil, garlic, and oregano)
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese (optional)


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, then start by preparing the peppers.  Slice off the top of each pepper, and reserve the tops.  Then remove the seeds and the ribs from the inside of the pepper, and boil the whole peppers in a pot of salted water for 5-7 minutes, depending on the size of your peppers.  Drain the water and allow the peppers to dry and cool to room temperature.  Meanwhile, dice up the peppers from the reserved tops; for mine this was about 1 1/2 cups diced peppers.   Then combine with diced sweet onions to make a total of 3 cups of diced vegetables; set aside.  (If your pepper tops give less than 1 1/2 cups of dice, just increase the amount of diced onion.) 


Next, add a splash of olive oil to a large skillet, and quickly saute minced garlic over medium heat for a minute or two.  Then add ground beef, a few pinches of salt and pepper, and cook until beef is just browned, breaking up any large clumps.  Transfer browned beef to a plate lined with a paper towel; leave the remaining fat or oil in the pan, and add reserved diced vegetables.  Saute vegetables over medium heat until onions are just translucent.  Then add oregano, parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the skillet, saute for one additional minute, and transfer the seasoned vegetable mixture to a large bowl. To make the filling for the stuffed peppers, add the cooked brown rice and the browned beef to the same bowl and mix well; then taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.  Finally, make a quick sauce by combining tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, and tomato paste in a food processor.  Pulse until smooth, taste and add salt or pepper as needed.  


To fill peppers, place each cooled pepper upright in a square baking dish or casserole dish.  Spoon filling equally into each pepper, then spoon tomato sauce over the filled peppers.  Bake stuffed peppers at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired, and bake for an additional 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve immediately.              

29 comments:

  1. I do love a good ol' fashioned stuffed pepper. I actually posted one myself just a week or so back. Yours looks delicious!

    I'm one of those that cooks for a small army and you're right. It's so nice to cook for other people. I envy you a bit as well though. It's nice to have that complete freedom to make and eat whatever you want. Regardless of what you cook or who you're cooking for, I'll be here drooling over what you make.

    I hope you had a nice weekend and thanks for the tweet!

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  2. Yes! I remember those days when salad was all I needed. Or a bagel and yogurt at 7 p.m. Those days are long gone in my house! I have a version of stuffed peppers on my blog, too. My mom made them all the time when I was growing up.

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  3. I'm with you on the meat, I don't eat it at all. But it looks like I could make it without the meat and just brown rice. And as much as I love cookies, I'll eat them as an appetizer - just not the main course ;>)

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  4. Yay for meat! I don't know what I'd do without it. I am on the opposite end of the eating spectrum because we rarely have a meatless meal. But I can see the appeal if you're not cooking for an army. The peppers look lovely!!!

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  5. OH MY! these look sooo good! i am not a fan of stuffed peppers either, but you are right, recipes that looks and sound amazing are all over the place now... and i count yours as one of them. i'd love to make these as soon as those damn peppers at the store go on sale. lol.. or i can wait for the farmers' market on thursday :)

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  6. nothing beats a good stuffed pepper!! your look so delicious!! now make some cookies please!

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  7. Your last paragraph pretty much summed up my feelings for stuffed peppers... but you have inspired me to try! They have been a favorite of my Dad's for as long as I can remember. I will have to surprise him with a new recipe!

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  8. The colors are beautiful and this looks great! I'm not a huge fan of stuffed peppers but I think I will take your advice and try this. It's always good to try new things, sometimes more than once. And hooray for a balanced meal - I often don't feed myself that well when I'm home alone either.

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  9. These look fantastic! Stuffed peppers are one my favorite weekday go to recipes - so easy with so much flavor. Yours look really tasty.

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  10. I love the colour of those peppers! Stuffed peppers are easy to make and yummy.

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  11. Looks GREAT! I should make some when capsicums are in season.

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  12. Hmmm, your stuffed peppers do look more appetizing than the image I have of them in my head. I might have to try this someday...

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  13. So these are the infamous stuffed peppers! They certainly are pretty... I would love to do a veggie version of this one day this week. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  14. Yup, I think this is what I'm going to have for dinner tonight! My roommate in college used to make stuffed peppers and they were always one of my faves- these look great!

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  15. Oh! Love the idea of the color stuffed peppers, they look so appetizing...and the sauce on top looks delicious :-)

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  16. I rarely ate meat when I lived on my own unless it was chicken. I never even went through the meat section unless I needed something specific or to replenish my supply. Part of the problem is that it isn't easy to buy a piece of meat for ONE person and when you're on a student's budget things like salad and pasta tend to win out. Oh well.

    I am not a fan of peppers, but I could totally see your stuffing in a big heirloom tomato or even an eggplant. I bet it would be really good with eggplant. ;)

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  17. I often make stuffed peppers Greek style, without meat, but these look great too! Lovely photos.

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  18. I love making stuffed peppers, they look difficult and time consuming but are so easy :)

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  19. I've never had stuffed peppers before...but these look great!! Ill be adding these to my next week dinner menu!! :)

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  20. My hubby luuuuuvs stuffed peppers, specially with minced meat. Your peppers look great, such pretty colors.

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  21. Ooooh, they're so colorful. I can't wait for the day I get to feed a big family and not hsve to adjust everything for just the 2 of us. I'll remember this dish for sure!

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  22. I'm definitely a fan of cookies (or biscotti) for dinner and I have a big, hungry man to feed! :) I definitely see your point about wanting to make balanced, healthy meals though. I think these peppers totally meet all of the criteria- delicious and balanced! :)

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  23. These are perfect stuffed peppers...I do not eat meat, but I used to make these for my kids and I used the red or orange verses the green. I figured out that it was the green pepper that threw them of verses the sweetness of the yellow etc.

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  24. I love stuffed peppers. I don't know why I don't think to make them enough. Thanks for the reminder. Yours looks so fresh and perfectly balanced like you said. I'll have to remember to make these soon. Thanks!

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  25. 1. I've been looking for a solid stuffed pepper recipe. I've found a few not so tasty ones
    2. I know what you mean about cooking for one versus feeding others. You see all the baked goods I make... It's just not as fun unless others are sharing it.
    3. I'm sure your cookies are great but I'd probably take your roasted chicken anyday!

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  26. Stuffed peppers with and without meat are one of my favorite dishes. We try to have at least 2 meatless nights here and one fish night so dishes like this where it can go either way is a great 'go to '. Your photos are lovely !

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  27. I would love to recreate this dish with vegetables (mashed potatoes?? instead of ground beef) - Hopefully it turns out good...

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  28. Savy cook: You could easily substitute something for the ground beef, or you could even omit it altogether and just double the rice and vegetables! Let me know how it turns out. :)

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