Teaching myself to cook, one recipe at a time.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Stuffed Peppers

I was at the grocery store, stylishly dressed in my yoga pants, husband’s sweatshirt, and dirty sneakers, picking out fresh produce. A woman had her cart blocking the entire bell pepper display, but she moved it aside when she saw me coming. She gestured to the prepackaged sets of bell peppers and asked me why the sets only included yellow, orange, and red peppers, not green peppers. I didn’t have an answer, but asked my own: Why were all the red bells so monstrously HUGE? The woman waved her hands matter-of-factly, informing me that they were good for making stuffed peppers.


I was quiet for a moment, then picked out seven. Because of course I needed seven bell peppers. And it makes total sense to pick an odd number like that.

The recipe that I selected when I got home called for four peppers. I thought about cutting it down, since it was just hubby and I, but then I figured I’d leave it as-is and have plenty for lunch the next day. I selected two greens and two reds.


I cut off the tops and then hollowed them out, scraping out the seeds and membranes.


Plop them in some boiling water for a few minutes.


And then rinse in cold water to stop the from cooking. It actually smelled pretty good at this point.


I set them up on paper towels to drain. And started wondering if they were cooked a tad too long, since they were soft and kind of droopy.


Here’s a little tip that I learned on another site – cut off the bottoms of the peppers so that they’ll stand up all right in the pan.


Now for the stuffing.

Take a pound and a half of beef.


And a cup of cold rice. I had made gumbo the day before and had plenty of rice to spare.


Dump it in with the beef.


Add an egg.


Some chopped onions (also conveniently leftover from making gumbo).


And some Italian-style bread crumbs.


Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder.


And some Parmesan cheese.


I stood there looking at it for a few minutes, not wanting to just dig in with my hands and wondering if I could mix it evenly and well with just a wooden spoon. I tried, and this is as far as I got.


I finally gave in and got my hands dirty.


I divided the mixture into four balls so that each pepper could have an equal amount.


Stuffing them wasn’t hard at all, even though the peppers were delicate after having been boiled for a few minutes.


I mixed a can of tomato sauce with a quarter cup of white wine vinegar. I don’t know why the recipe wanted that, except to make it more acidic and cause worse heartburn than it would otherwise. But I went ahead and did it because the recipe said to. I’m young and I can get away with these things. Pour it over top of the peppers.


And top with some more Parmesan cheese.


This is one of those dishes that you can put in the oven and then clean the entire kitchen before it’s even ready. It needs 80 minutes, so you have plenty of time. I poured some wine for hubby and I.


I used some of the leftover wine charms that I made for our wedding. I found myself wishing I could “pin” them on Pinterest. Oh goodness.


Anyway, the peppers weren’t the prettiest things ever. The tall, skinny red bells plopped over, and the tomato sauce just wasn’t all that visually appealing to me.


It didn’t look all that recognizable on my plate, either.


But damn was it delicious! Hubby declared that it was like meatballs inside of peppers, and he added, “That’s what I’m talking about.” Man food.


This was such a delicious meal. Hearty, warm, and filling. I forgot until there were only about 10 minutes left on the timer that I had wanted to make roasted potatoes and also a broccoli side dish, but I took a gulp of my wine and thought, “Screw it.” Turns out, one pepper with all that stuffing was plenty of food. I wouldn’t have been able to eat that and potatoes, and I would have just eaten far too much. If you’re trying to go for a more balanced dish, I’d suggest slicing your peppers in half instead of keeping them whole.

Otherwise, not much I’d change. Yum!

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