You really just HAVE to make these......
I saw these stunning red bell peppers at the market the other day, and they stopped me in my tracks. Not only were they gorgeous, but they were HUGE and perfectly shaped! The minute I laid eyes on them, I knew that being stuffed and baked was their destiny.
I hadn't made stuffed peppers in eons, and frankly, I wasn't sure I even remembered how. But, after a quick phone call to Mom, and a little surfing around on Food Blog Search, I knew just what to do.
I decided to start with a basic stuffed pepper recipe, using a combination of ground beef, veal and pork mixed with rice for my filling. I used a short grain Valencia rice because I already had an opened package in my pantry, but you can use any kind of rice you'd like. After the peppers were stuffed, they were baked in a bath of tomato sauce. For a bit of a Greek flair, I added some cinnamon to both the filling and the accompanying tomato sauce. For a little oomph, I added some smoked paprika to both as well.
And the tomato sauce! I must tell you about that sauce. I did something with it that I have never done before. In addition to the regular cast of characters, plus the cinnamon and smoked paprika, I also whisked in a can of tomato soup. Yes, you heard me, TOMATO SOUP! Why, you ask? Well, first of all, I wanted to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. Secondly, I also wanted the sauce to have a touch of sweetness, which I thought would complement the cinnamon. Thirdly, I'm just crazy like that sometimes.
Did it work? A resounding YES! This tomato sauce was so velvety, that it was almost creamy. It had a warm, mellow, slightly spicy/sweet flavor that kept improving the longer it simmered. In fact, I made some meatballs out of the leftover filling and simmered them in the leftover sauce the next day. I served them over some plain, boiled potatoes and I swear, people, magic happened!
These stuffed peppers are definitely something best saved for a lazy weekend day. To do them right, you've got to take your time. But, it is oh, so worth it! You also have to judge exactly how long to bake them. The time will vary depending upon the size of your peppers. As I said, mine were very large, so I did have to add a good thirty minutes to the baking time. If you use smaller peppers, you probably won't need that much time.
I served the stuffed peppers with a green salad, tossed very simply with some olive oil and vinegar, and a loaf of very crusty French bread. That's all you need. This dish is extremely hearty, satisfying and filling. All of us here at Chez SGCC adored it! In fact, I think I noticed Mr. SGCC's eyes roll back in his head a little as he took his fist bite.
Now, I know it's Tuesday, and Tuesday is TWD day, but this week's recipe was Dorie's Chocolate Armagnac Cake, chocolate being the operative word here. It is basically another dense, rich, flourless chocolate cake made with prunes and brandy. I'll be honest with you, people. After all of the chocolate that has passed through my kitchen in the past week, I couldn't bear the thought (or expense) of making One. More. Chocolate. Dessert. Even I have my limits! In the past seven days, I have made chocolate covered Caramel Crunch Bars, a flourless Chocolate Valentino Cake and not one, but TWO kinds of chocolate truffles. I've gone through three pounds of Guittard and Valrhona chocolate, pounds of butter and countless eggs. Melted chocolate has adorned my cabinets, countertops, walls and me! By the time I was through, I could have passed for a great big, giant chocolate truffle myself! So, I hope that you'll forgive the transgression, but I just couldn't do chocolate again. If you're in a chocolate mood, please stop by the Tuesdays with Dorie Blogroll to see lots of Chocolate Armagnac Cakes. If you'd like the recipe, you can find it at Lyb's site, And Then I Do the Dishes.
Stuffed Peppers alla SGCC
6 large red or yellow bell peppers
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves minced garlic
2-3 tbs olive oil
1/2 lb ground veal
1/2 lb ground pork
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup minced parsley
1 cup panko crumbs
1 cup short grain rice
1/2 tsp smoked paprika, or more to taste
1/2 tsp cinnamon, or more to taste
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 cups tomato sauce (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 375 deg. F.
Wash, dry and then cut the tops off of the peppers. Hollow out the peppers, removing all ribs and seeds. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in the olive oil and add the onions. Lower heat to medium and saute for about 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent. Add garlic and saute a minute or two more. Set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, add all ingredients, except tomato sauce, and mix well.
Using a spoon or scoop, stuff the peppers with the filling. Save the tops for later. Place the stuffed peppers in a roasting pan or large casserole dish and top with tomato sauce. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for approximately 1 hour. Then, remove the foil and put the tops on the peppers. Bake 20-30 minutes more, until peppers begin to get browned and the sauce is nice and bubbly.
2-3 tbs olive oil
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 clove minced garlic
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tbs fresh oregano leaves
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato soup
1 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
1/2-1 tsp smoked paprika to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Add onions and saute for about 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent. Add garlic, thyme and oregano, and saute a minute or two more.
Add crushed tomatoes, soup and water and mix well to combine. Stir in cinnamon stick and smoked paprika. Bring to a boil, then lower heat so that sauce is gently simmering. Simmer, covered for about 20-25 minutes. Uncover and simmer another 15-20 minutes, until sauce starts to thicken.
Remove cinnamon stick, and add salt and pepper to taste.