Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Italian Stuffed Peppers

I stuffed some stuff... again.   


Apparently, I lack creativity in the kitchen as of late.  My cooking M.O. over the past few months can pretty much be lumped into three methods: grilling, stuffing and searing.   

Are you sick of the stuffing yet? 


Hopefully, your answer there was something along the lines of "No, I absolutely LOVE stuffed foods - it makes it makes everyday boring and blah food so much more exciting and tasty," because Thursday's recipe is also stuffed food. 
 
There is a huge possibility that next Tuesday's recipe will also involve stuffing, but I'll try to give you a break. 


I made these stuffed peppers last Friday night on a whim.  My menu planning last week was all out of whack - the trip to NYC left me with no time to plan and no time to grocery shop for the week.  When I got home from work on Friday, I pulled all of the edible (read: not spoiled) food from the fridge and racked my brain for recipe ideas.  I felt like I was living out my nightmare on an episode of "Chopped".  

For the record, I'd be utterly disastrous as a contestant on that show.  It takes me days to develop a recipe idea, and even longer to execute it, and those chefs have to whip up a culinary masterpiece using tofu, tomato paste and prosciutto in minutes?  Yeah. Right.  I'd be chopped before I even set the water to boil. 


Luckily, my everything but the kitchen sink recipe was a success.  Scott was eating the filling by the bowl full before I could even get the pepper stuffed. 


Italian Stuffed Peppers
Serves:  8
Prep Time:  15 minutes 
Cook Time:  55 minutes
Total Time:  1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients:
1 1/4 pounds ground beef

3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 large zucchini, diced
1 10 oz box of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 bunch of basil, chopped
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon of dried oregano 
1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
3 cloves of garlic, minced 
1 16 ounce crushed tomatoes
1 16 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 8 ounce can of tomato sauce
8 bell peppers (I used assorted), tops and seeds removed
1 cup Peccorino Romano, shredded
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 F.  In a large dutch oven or pot, heat olive oil over high heat.  Add celery, carrots and onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add zucchini, spinach, basil, nutmeg, oregano, Italian seasoning, salt, red pepper flakes and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Add ground beef and cook until beef has browned, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce (reserving 1/4 for bottom of casserole dish) and stir to combine.  Pour remainder of tomato sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish with raised edges large enough to accommodate the peppers.  Fill bell peppers with meat  and veggie filling and place (advice - pack that stuff in!) in  casserole dish.  Bake for 35 minutes.  In last 5 minutes of cooking, top peppers with the Peccorino Romano cheese.  Dig in.
This is a great recipe to double the portions and freeze!

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