Saturday, November 17, 2012

Stuffed Bell Peppers

I, being of a relative "foodie-limited" upbringing in good ol' Rice Lake, WI (pop. 8000), decided to branch out one fine Boston afternoon.  The opportunities were endless!  Fresh overpriced oysters? Terrible burritos at the less-than-authentic taco joints of MA?  Italian cuisine that your Italian boyfriend can make better at home?  Ethiopian?  

Yes, Ethiopian.  A Boston cuisine that had yet to tantalize / disappoint my taste buds.  Now, mind you, Boston does indeed have some deeeeeeeeeeelightful dining options.  Today was just one of those "glass-half-empty" kind of days, so Boston culinary scene, here's my wrath.

But back to the Ethiopian.  One, you eat it with your hands.  Two, they had some fine stuffed bell peppers.  Perhaps I was only jazzed because it was my first (yes, first) stuffed bell pepper experience, or perhaps they really were that great.  Either way, I vowed to make them at home.  Granted, I failed to try a more "Ethiopian" version, which would call for the emission of the pasta sauce and cheese, including instead more spices and herbs (cumin, cilantro, mint, tumeric, red pepper, mushrooms, etc)... 

However, this was the recipe I tried.  It was lovely regardless.  Om nom nom. 


1 medium green bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 of a medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
 4 oz ground protein (beef, turkey, chicken, tofu, etc.)
1/3 cup cooked rice
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/3 cup your favorite pasta sauce
2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella

1.     Preheat oven to 350F.

2.     Fill medium pot about 2/3rds of the way with water. Bring to a boil. Chop off top inch of green pepper. Take out seeds and white membranes of interior. Parboil the pepper for 5 to 8 minutes, until it bends ever-so-slightly to the touch. Once finished, make sure there is no water in the pepper and put the pepper into a glass baking dish, open side up.

If the concept of "parboil" makes you wrinkle your forehead and feel inferior, here is a helpful link on finding instructions:

What is parboiling?

3.     In medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until crisp-tender (not soft). Add garlic. Cook 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add meat. Cook until meat is browned, breaking up the chunks as you saute. Add rice, oregano, and 2/3rds of the sauce. Cook until hot / warm throughout. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4.     Carefully use your spoon to stuff the pepper with the meat mixture, exceeding the top of the pepper by about 1/4 to 1/2 inch.** Pour the rest of the tomato sauce on top of the pepper.

5.     Cover dish loosely with tin foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes (if baking several peppers, increase baking time to 45 mintues). Uncover. Top with cheese. Bake without cover for another 10 or 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

**Any remaining meat mixture in the skillet makes for great "sloppy joe-esque" leftovers.

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