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Baked Stuffed Peppers with Ground Beef, Rice, Bulgur and Goat Cheese

Serves 4

I love stuffed peppers and do not make them often enough. When I created this recipe, I decided to try something completely different. Oh my goodness, these peppers are so good and quite healthy. The first time I made them, I used both red and green peppers and served one of each color per person. However, I usually just use red. For extra nutrition, I use brown basmati rice, although any rice will work. If you cannot find bulgur, omit it and make a little more rice. Despite the number of ingredients, this is an easy recipe. Once the rice and beef are cooked, everything comes together quickly and the rest is hands-off baking time.

Ingredients

Preheat oven to 350° F. Cook the rice in 1 cup water according to the time suggested on the package. Set aside. Meanwhile, toast the bulgur in the oven on a baking sheet until lightly golden, about 12 minutes. Set that aside. Cut the peppers in half vertically and remove the stems and seeds.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Sauté the ground beef until browned, stirring in the fennel seeds, thyme, marjoram, dried basil, salt and pepper when it first starts to brown. Add the onion and chopped peppers to the pan; sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté one more minute. Remove from the heat.

Place the peppers in one layer in a lightly oiled or sprayed baking dish. In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef mixture, rice, bulgur, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan, the goat cheese and the reserved tomato juices. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Stuff each pepper half with the mixture. Top with the diced tomatoes, fresh basil and the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until hot and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Increase heat to 400°. Remove foil and bake until lightly browned on top, about 10 minutes.