I grew up with my mom’s stuffed peppers, cooked in a sweet and sour tomato sauce. Scanning the Internet for recipes, I noticed that in most recipes the meat was cooked before stuffing, whereas my mother stuffed the peppers with raw meat and cooked them in a stew of sauce along with extra meatballs since although we loved the flavor of green peppers, we wouldn’t eat them. So, I decided to try the pre-cooked meat. My husband requested that I serve rice with the peppers rather than mixing cooked rice into the cooked meat. I read somewhere that peppers with four points on the bottom are best for cooking; three points for eating raw. I’m not sold on this recipe, one I created based upon several others plus my own ideas, but it was fun to experiment. If you make it, you should experiment too.
large pot of boiling water
6 medium to large bell peppers, any color
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground turkey
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce, separated
1. Cut the tops off of the peppers and clean out the seeds inner white spongy core. Cut the stem away from the tops and chop up the pepper tops to use in the recipe. Parboil the peppers in a pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes, until tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a towel.
2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onions and chopped pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes until tender.
3. Add the garlic, beef and turkey. Stir the meat until crumbled and nearly browned. Take the pan off of the heat and tip the pan over the sink so that you can spoon out most of the liquid.
4. Return the pan to the heat and add the parsley, salt, pepper and pepper flakes. Mix in and then add 1 cup of the tomato sauce.
At this point I left the mixture to sit for awhile so as to avoid working with the hot meat.
5. Pre-heat oven to 350° Pour the remaining tomato sauce into a baking dish. Fill the peppers with the mixture and bake for 30 minutes until heated through. Serve with rice. Scoop a little of the sauce on the top of the pepper.
For the filling, you could use any ground meat (chicken, turkey, beef, pork…even tofu) solo or in any combination. I was pleased with the result of the parboiling of the peppers and it was nice not to worry if the meat was cooked all the way through, but I’m used to a saucier stuffed pepper. Next time I think I’ll add some some lemon juice and brown sugar to the tomato sauce in the baking dish to make that piquant flavor I remember from my youth. Then I’ll pour more than just a dab over the top. I can also imagine sprinkling cheese or bread crumbs on the top of the pepper before baking. Some of the recipes recommended baking the peppers in a dish with water, but I had a half can of tomato sauce, so I just used it up as the base.