Rainbow Stuffed Peppers- meat & vegetarian
Are you getting bored with dinner? I am! How much chicken and pasta and tomato sauce and potatoes and meat and whatever else can we eat? I try to get creative, like when I make this Asian Noodle bar, homemade thai curry, or even our favourite meat lasagne, but honestly, in the dead of winter, all dinners seem boring.
Mealtime seriously needs brightening up.
Which is why I was so excited that bell peppers were on special at my local supermarket yesterday. As soon as I saw that deliciously low price of $1.99 / lb, my culinary wheels started turning. I’d been dying to introduce the famjam to stuffed peppers, and I knew that the dish would be easy to adapt for my vegetarian daughter (who has, since she is a vegetarian who doesn’t like vegetables, thankfully started eating fish again.)
They LIKED it! They really LIKED it! To be honest, these stuffed peppers were one of the tastiest and yummiest creations I’ve ever come up with, never mind really pretty to look at (If you can believe it, my SON insisted I run and get a camera to take a picture!)
I had to share this healthy supper with you. The recipe takes about 1 hr total cooking time, but is actually very easy and reheats really well. You could definitely make-ahead and then pop in the oven when ready to eat (because the final cooking time is only about 15-20 minutes. The best part? It’s pretty much got all the food groups covered, since it’s chock full of protein, veggies, and whole grain rice.
Note: this recipe is for a combo of vegetarian and meat peppers. Adjust as necessary if you’re doing only one or the other.
Rainbow Stuffed Peppers Hit Your Meat Lovers and Vegetarians with One Meal
What You’ll Need:
1/2 lb – 3/4 lb lean ground beef (or chicken or turkey)
1/2-3/4 can of chickpeas or other beans, drained and rinsed (I found rainbow chickpeas and they were very tasty and just the right size. PS you rinse the beans so you don’t get Le Gas.)
2 tbsp olive oil
6-7 largish bell peppers-green, red, yellow, etc
3 celery stalks, diced
1 large carrot, shredded (large hole on a box grater)
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 large plum tomatoes, seeds squeezed out and diced
1 796 ml can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp of brown sugar
Dried basil, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper
About 2 1/2 cups of cooked brown basmati rice
About 2 cups shredded cheese (I like the Light Italian blend from Kraft because I’m too lazy to shred cheese)
1 jar of good quality tomato sauce (or homemade)
What You’ll Do:
- Cook rice according to package directions and set aside when done
- Prepare the peppers: Cut the tops off and clean the seeds and ribs out from the inside. If the pepper won’t stand upright, take a little off the bottom too. Reserve the tops. Place the peppers in a large pot of boiling salted water (You may have to do this in two shifts). Boil for about 3-5 minutes until the peppers are just starting to cook. Don’t overdo them or they’ll be too soft and hard to stuff. Immediately place in cold water to stop the cooking. Set them in a baking dish.
- Chop the reserved pepper tops, tossing the stalks. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic, and saute until fragrant and translucent. Add the rest of the vegetables (except the tomatoes) and cook until they’re softened. While you’re doing that, brown the ground beef in a second large skillet. When the vegetables and meat are done, split the cooked veggies up according to whatever proportions tickle your fancy (I did about 1/2 and 1/2).
- You’ll now be cooking double-fisted. Hold two spoons so as not to contaminate the vegetarian pan. Add the diced fresh tomatoes to the mixtures and stir, cooking about 2 minutes. Split the can of tomatoes between the pans and add the brown sugar (1 tbsp per pan), a good dash of worcestershire sauce and about 1 tsp of dried basil. Add the chickpeas or other beans to the vegetarian pan. Stir again, and bring up to the simmer. Season with salt & pepper to taste, add some hot pepper flakes if you want to add a bit of zip, and cook on low heat until most of the liquid has boiled off (about 10 minutes. The meat mixture will take a bit longer).
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Add the cooked brown rice to the pans, using as much or little rice as you want (the veggie side will take more rice than the meat).
- Stuff the peppers nice and full. You can pack it in-the more, the better (mmmm)… Top with about 1/4 cup of shredded cheese. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until cheese is nice and melty. If you made ahead, cook for 30 minutes or until everything inside is nice and hot.
- Top with generous spoonfuls of tomato sauce and serve with a salad on the side! SO GOOD!
Do you LOVE it? Will you make it?