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Recipe: Cheese, sausage fill green peppers

  • TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
                                Bell peppers stuffed with a cheesy mixture of sweet Italian sausage, brown rice and Parmesan cheese make a hearty meal.

    TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE

    Bell peppers stuffed with a cheesy mixture of sweet Italian sausage, brown rice and Parmesan cheese make a hearty meal.

Peppers taste just as good filled with a savory mix of ground beef and cheese as they do when stuffed with spicy or sweet sausage, tuna, grains or just vegetables. It’s the ultimate clear-your-fridge-or-pantry dish.

In this recipe, I pair sweet Italian sausage with brown rice, grated Parmesan, tomatoes and Italian spices for the filling, and roast them along with tomato sauce. The peppers can either be cut in half lengthwise, or their tops may be lopped off. Either way their cavities can accommodate a good amount of stuffing.

Some cooks (me included) like to parboil the peppers before stuffing them to cut down on the cooking time, while others choose to prebake the peppers for around 20 minutes. It’s perfectly fine to simply pop the peppers raw into a hot oven; they’ll just take a little longer to bake.

I simmered my peppers in hot water for about 5 minutes to soften the shells slightly.

Leftover filling can be stirred into tomato soup, and you’ll have a whole new dish.

Cheesy Stuffed Peppers With Sausage and Rice

  • 1-1/2 cups tomato sauce, divided
  • 6 large green bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped (1/3 cup)
  • 1 cup cooked white or brown rice
  • 1 cup fresh diced tomatoes, or 14-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Pinch crushed pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Pour 1 cup of tomato sauce into a casserole dish.

Slice off tops of bell peppers, then remove the membranes and seeds and discard. (If desired, peppers may be simmered in water 5 minutes to soften slightly; drain well). Arrange empty peppers standing up in prepared casserole dish. Alternatively, slice peppers lengthwise, remove membranes and seeds and place on their sides in a casserole dish.

Add oil to a large skillet and heat over medium. Add sausage and cook until browned, 8 to 10 minutes, breaking the meat up into small pieces.

Add garlic and onion; cook until softened, another 2 minutes. Stir in cooked rice and tomatoes; stir to combine. Add oregano, thyme and pepper flakes, along with salt and pepper. Stir in Parmesan.

Spoon sausage mixture into bell peppers and top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Drizzle remaining 1/2 cup tomato sauce on top.

Cover tightly with foil. Bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake about 20 minutes longer or until peppers are fork tender (parboiled peppers may cook faster). Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately. Serves 6.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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