Monday, January 19, 2015

Healthy Stuffed Peppers #recipe #GardenCuizine #eatright

Healthy Stuffed Peppers
High Vitamin C, Lean Quality Protein

The first time I made stuffed peppers was in culinary school at The Academy of Culinary Arts in Mays Landing, NJ. I remember Chef Matt really liked the way they turned out. We don't make them at home too often; I'm not sure why because they are easy to make. 

Bell peppers are most affordable if you grow your own or you buy them on sale at the market. Stuffed peppers make a very nutritious dinner entree. Bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A. Peppers also provide other important nutrients including dietary fiber.

I don't usually follow a recipe, but have one below that you can use as a guide. This is another GardenCuizine "freestyle recipe". What I mean by that is that you can add or subtract any of the ingredients to your liking and the recipe will still turn out. For example, if you didn't have any fresh tomatoes - don't worry about it - just don't put them in. Or, if you don't like hot peppers - simply don't add them.

The more you cook at home, the more comfortable you will feel to create your own signature recipes. These classic stuffed peppers could also be made using Boca burger crumbles for the protein; or a combination of beans and quinoa to make them vegetarian. 

Serves 4-5 
1 cup Brown Basmati Rice
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
pinch salt and black pepper

1/8 teaspoon dried hot pepper or red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil 

6 Bell Peppers any color (or only 4 peppers if they are long in shape)

1 lb. lean ground beef (or turkey or Boca burger crumbles - a small pkg. of ground beef may be .75 lbs or a little less than one lb. - close enough)
3/4 - 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
1 can 28oz (794g) Cento San Marzano peeled tomatoes with basil (or small jar pasta sauce; or 16 ounces homemade pasta sauce)
1/2 medium onion (1 cup) chopped
whatever amount (~1 cup) you have of pepper chopped from around the removed stems
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley (we've substituted seasoning celery that was still growing in our winter garden!)
1/2 cup or more reduced fat shredded cheese

Putting it all together 
First cook the rice: On stove top over medium heat saute minced garlic and hot pepper in olive oil. Stir in the rice. Add water, bay leaf and seasonings. Bring to boil; reduce heat to simmer cover and cook 45 minutes. Turn off heat. Set aside. Remove bay leaf. You will only need to use 1 cup of the cooked rice to mix with the ground meat. By cooking extra rice you can save time and use the leftovers for another meal.

Wash the peppers. Cut the tops off. Remove the membranes and seeds. Carefully cut around the pepper stem and pull off the stem with the seeds intact so seeds don't go all over the place. You may have some peppers that may not be the perfect size for stuffing. Longer bell peppers can be cut in half. Any usable pepper attached to the stems can be chopped and sauteed along with the onion. 

For larger, long bell peppers - cut the stem out of the top and use the pepper to fill too (don't worry about it having a hole in the "bottom". To clarify: for example, we had 4 bell peppers, two red, one orange, and one yellow. You can see in the photo that the two red peppers were huge and long. So, I cut them in half, which gave us two top halves plus the 4 bottoms - now we had 6 peppers to stuff. Also, some peppers may need a small slice cut off their bottom so they stand in the baking dish without falling over.

Saute the onion and any pepper pieces until the onion is translucent. Stir in the garlic and seasonings (note that no added salt is needed in the meat filling). Stir in the ground meat and cook until almost done. Stir in one cup cooked rice, the fresh tomatoes and chopped parsley. Turn off heat.

Open the can of San Marzano tomatoes and squeeze the tomatoes - crush with your clean hands as you add the tomatoes and most of the sauce to your baking dish. If you have any leftover add it to the ground meat mixture. Or, use 8 ounces of homemade sauce in the bottom of your baking dish and 8 more ounces of sauce mixed in with the ground meat.

Fill the peppers with the ground meat mixture. Cover with foil and bake 40-45 minutes.

Remove foil and sprinkle tops with shredded reduced fat cheese. Return to oven uncovered and continue baking until cheese melts and sauce is bubbling. About another 20-30 minutes.

Serve with a side garden salad and homemade corn bread.

Buon Appetito!
GardenCuizine Stuffed Peppers Nutrition Data coming soon...
Blog post reicpe and photos Copyright (C)2015 Wind. All rights reserved.

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