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Like so many recipes, Baked Stuffed Peppers is a dish that you’ve probably learned to make one way, with one stuffing and one specific sauce.
It’s likely you’ve been eating it that way…forever.
And while there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, especially if you really enjoy it, it’s always nice to know similar recipes in the event you might want to try something different one day.
Even the classic Baked Stuffed Peppers has many adaptations. Generally speaking, though, it’s made from Sweet Bell Peppers (of any color), stuffed with a mixture of meat, rice, chopped vegetables and seasonings then baked (braised) in a tomato sauce.
Have it your way…
The basic variations within the classic recipe include which meat you use (ground beef, veal, pork, chicken, turkey or other), which rice you use (converted, wild, jasmine, pearl, Arborio), and lastly, which sauce you use (marinara, arrabiata, vodka or any other tomato sauce of choice).
The other choice you have is whether you want a firm filling (in which case you stuff your peppers with a mixture of raw meat and cooked rice) or a loose, casserole-like filling (in which case you pre-cook both the meat and rice before combining them together and stuffing your peppers).
Both work well. It’s only a matter of texture preference.
Me, I’m more of a pre-cooked beef and sweet Italian sausage meat mix with a pre-cooked Jasmine rice and Marinara kinda guy. But that’s just me.
Below is the basic recipe for this classic dish, and then below that, check out some of the modern adaptations you might want to try.
Baked Stuffed Peppers
6 Medium Size Bell Peppers, Any Color
2 TBSP Olive Oil
1 Medium Sweet Onion, Chopped
2 Stalks Celery, Chopped
2 tsp Garlic, Chopped
1 cup Roma Tomato, Diced
1 – 24 oz. jar Salvaggio’s Marinara Sauce
1 tsp. Oregano, Dry, Crushed
2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1 Extra-Large Egg, Beaten
1 ½ Lbs. Ground Beef
1 ½ Cups Cooked Rice
Optional: 1 Cup Shredded Cheese (Cheddar, Mozzarella or other)
Heat the oven to 350° F.
Cut tops off of the bell peppers and remove the seeds and membranes.
Chop edible part of tops and set aside.
Rinse peppers under cold water. Place peppers in a large pot. Cover with salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. (NOTE: for a stronger pepper flavor, this step can be omitted and you can stuff the peppers while still raw.)
Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat until hot. Sauté chopped bell pepper (from tops), chopped onion, celery and garlic for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Add the Roma tomatoes, marinara, oregano, salt, and pepper. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg with the ground beef, cooked rice, and 1 cup of the marinara mixture. Mix well.
Stuff peppers with meat mixture and place in a 3-quart baking dish. Pour remaining tomato mixture over the stuffed peppers.
Cover the baking dish lightly with tin foil. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until peppers are tender and the meat mixture is fully cooked and firm.
Optional: Top stuffed peppers with a little shredded cheddar cheese just before they are done. Bake or broil until cheese is melted.
If you’d like to try your hand at some NEW Stuffed Pepper ideas, here are some to try. Without going into individual, lengthy recipes for each one, I think you can quickly see the possibilities.
Instead of ground beef, substitute shrimp, andouille sausage, and chicken. Add a bit of hot chili powder to both the rice and marinara sauce.
Use cooked chicken or taco-seasoned beef. Then use crushed tortilla chips instead of the rice and canned enchilada sauce instead of marinara. Lastly, smother the finished stuffed peppers with a Monterey Jack Cheddar Cheese Blend.
Use ½ ground beef and ½ ground lamb. To the rice mixture, add chopped Kalamata olives, roasted garlic, oregano, rosemary, feta cheese and vodka sauce instead of marinara.
Turkey or Chicken:
Substitute ground turkey or chicken for the beef.
Use pre-seared, thin strips of beef with sautéed mushrooms in place of the ground beef and wide egg noodles instead of the rice. Cook the stuffed peppers in beef gravy instead of the marinara. Afterwards, stir a dollop or two of sour cream into the gravy to make it stroganoff-style.
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