Think outside the pepper when it comes to fillings
February and March’s great sales on bell peppers of all colors have me hungering for Mom’s family-famous stuffed green bell peppers. She always serves them on a bed of chopped iceberg lettuce. It’s tradition — they wouldn’t taste right any other way.
Lucky for us, Mom now lives here, still makes them and livens things up with peppers of many colors. She stuffs them the night before, and the next day they go in the slow cooker. Her favorite is still the green peppers — right for St. Patrick’s Day!
Leftover stews, casseroles and other dishes are great fillings for peppers. Or try meatloaf baked in peppers and top it with spaghetti sauce. There’s a thought by some that green peppers are a little bitter at times. Those colorful peppers have their own wonderful flavors and have converted the non-stuffed pepper critics. For something different, add poblano peppers to the list.
Give peppers a head start by pre-cooking them in a pan of water brought to boiling, then simmer them for about 5 minutes to create tender peppers. Don’t overcook them. Plunge them in cold water to cool.
Tip for baking: If whole peppers won’t stand up, cut a very thin slice off the bottom without putting a hole in the bottom. A little trim will have them balanced so the stuffing won’t spill out.
MOM’S STUFFED GREEN PEPPERS IN THE SLOW COOKER
5-6 bell peppers, depending on size
1 lb. lean ground beef
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 16-ounce can tomato sauce (add a little more in bottom of the slow cooker for delicious sauce)
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
4 ounces shredded cheese, extra for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup water
Remove pepper caps/seeds. Brown beef and onion, stir in tomato sauce, rice, water, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer 15 minutes, stir in cheese. Stuff peppers, place tops on, place in greased slow cooker and cook for about 3-4 hours or bake in oven for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with extra cheese, serve on iceberg lettuce.
Dixie note: Add a cup or more of diced cabbage for St. Patrick’s or try using enchilada sauce instead of tomato sauce for Mexican and stuff in a poblano pepper.
CORNED BEEF STUFFED PEPPERS
A St. Patrick’s Day dish with a twist. Thanks to Mike and Patty Hultquist at http://www.chilipeppermadness.com.
2 bell peppers, halved length wise and seeded
1-1/2 cups shredded cabbage
1 small onion, chopped
1 habanero pepper, seeded and finely minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Dash of olive oil
10-12 ounces cooked corned beef, chopped or shredded
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
3-4 Tbsp. Thousand Island dressing and more for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat large pan to medium heat, add cabbage, onion and habanero pepper with a bit of olive oil. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring. Add garlic, cooked corned beef and stir. Cook a couple minutes more to heat through. Remove from heat, stir in cheese and Thousand Island dressing. See website for homemade Thousand Island dressing recipe, or use store-bought. Spoon in cabbage-corned beef mixture pepper halves. Bake about 30 minutes on oiled baking sheet Serve with extra dressing. Enjoy! Serves 2.
Dixie note: I used a bit more cabbage and pre-cooked peppers a little. Loved the habanero — wasn’t too hot, size of habanero was small, it added a nice kick. Deli corned beef or leftovers from the St. Patrick’s Day dinner works. 2 Tbsp. dressing fits our taste, it’s your choice. Great recipe!
OTHER STUFFED PEPPER RECIPES TO TRY
MAC AND CHEESE STUFFED PEPPERS
I thought of macaroni and cheese in peppers since macaroni and cheese is an “in” dish. I found many recipes on the internet. To save time, I used deli macaroni and did my own thing. The mac and cheese was a little too thick. I added a little milk, mixed in finely minced pepper caps, some black pepper and 2 Tbsp. crumbled bacon. Stuff slightly pre-cooked peppers, bake in 350-degree oven until peppers are tender and mac is hot. Sprinkle with more bacon. Thumbs-up from Fred!
ENCHILADA CHICKEN AND QUINOA STUFFED PEPPERS
To get the recipe, go to http://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/2012/04/enchilada-chicken-quinoa-stuffed-bell-peppers/
My notes: I prefer two egg whites instead of three, add additional 1/4 cup quinoa, use Hatch red enchilada sauce (medium or hot). This is one of those many recipes I am seeing for stuffing peppers with uncooked meat.
We love all kinds of stuffed peppers, but you know how it is, Mom’s is still the best, as with everything she makes.