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Stuffed Red Peppers with Beef, Rice and Vegetables

Serves 4

This stuffed peppers recipe is absolutely delicious. The red peppers give a wonderful sweetness to the dish, quite different than green peppers, such as the recipe in the similar and related recipes links, which I like as well. Despite the number of ingredients, this dish comes together easily. Use whatever long grain rice you prefer. For a lighter or vegetarian main dish, reduce or omit the ground beef and add more mushrooms and squash.

Ingredients

Cut the red peppers in half vertically. Discard seeds and stems. Place in one layer in a microwave-safe dish. Cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high just until tender but still holding their shape, about 2 minutes depending on microwave wattage.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Sauté the ground beef until browned, stirring in the fennel seeds, sage, thyme, salt and pepper when it first starts to cook. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the oil from the pan. Add the onions and chopped peppers to the pan; sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, oregano and a bit more salt and pepper. Sauté until all is tender, about 10 minutes. Add to the beef.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place the peppers in one layer in a baking dish. Add the rice to the beef and vegetables. Add the cheese and stir well. Taste for seasoning. Stuff each pepper half with the mixture. (If there is extra stuffing, place it in dish around the peppers.) Cover tightly with foil and bake until hot and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until lightly browned on top, about 10 minutes. Let rest about 5 minutes before serving.