A wide variety of stuffed pepper recipes hail from all over the world. They can be served as an appetizer for any occasion, as a side dish or as a nutritious main course. Based on your choice of stuffing, this can also be a vegetarian or even a vegan dish. And kids love the idea of uncovering what’s inside.
Our version is a variation of a traditional Central European recipe. We’re using long green peppers (but any kind will do, based on your personal preferences for flavor and the size of each serving) and stuffing them with a mix of ground meats as part of a main dish served over brown rice and a thick tomato sauce. Remember that this recipe allows for your own personal additions; besides using vegetarian filling, you can combine a variety of different meats, tofu, mushrooms, and cheese, and you can serve the peppers with mashed potatoes, dumplings or over pasta. And, as always, opt for organic produce (sweet peppers are #12 on the 2013 Dirty dozen list) as well as meats.
Ingredients (yields 6-8 servings):
- 2 cups brown rice
- 8 medium long green peppers (or wax peppers, or whatever kind you prefer) cored with seeds removed
- 1 pound mixed ground meat (1/2 chicken, 1/2 pork, for example)
- 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped (you’ll use one for stuffing, one for sauce)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons bread crumbs
- 1 large egg
- 2 cans (14.5 oz each) crushed or pureed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dry marjoram
- 3 tablespoons grape seed oil (1/2 for baking pan, 1/2 for skillet)
- one tablespoon flour
- 2 bay leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl combine meat, onion, garlic, egg, bread crumbs, marjoram, salt and pepper. Using a fork, mix everything well together until all ingredients are blended evenly.
- Stuff each pepper with the mixture to the top. Grease baking pan with oil and place stuffed peppers sideways on the pan. Sprinkle peppers with oil and bake for 45-60 minutes (depending on thickness of peppers) or until golden.
- In a saucepan, combine rice, water and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
- In large skillet, add oil, chopped onion, sprinkle with flour and saute together until lightly brown. Add crushed tomatoes, bay leaves and salt. Bring to boil and simmer for about 2 minutes. Remove bay leaves from sauce before serving.
- Serve stuffed peppers hot or warm on a plate over a bed of brown rice and tomato sauce. Enjoy!
Nutritional and health benefits of peppers:
Many of you might not know that peppers are actually fruit, not vegetables. Whether spicy or sweet, peppers contain many phytochemicals with antioxidant abilities. Antioxidants can help neutralize free radicals, which are damaging to cells in our body. Peppers are one of the richest sources of vitamins A and C; just a cup a day can provide more than 100% of our daily needs of those nutrients. They also contain good levels of essential minerals such as iron, copper, zinc, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and selenium. Peppers are also a good source of B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin, and thiamin (vitamin B-1).