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Stuffed Green Peppers

Serves 8

This is a basic recipe for a ground beef and rice stuffing can be used for peppers, squash, or eggplant. It is very versatile. The amount of ground beef can be altered to preference. For a meatless stuffing, omit the ground beef and add something like black beans or chopped eggplant. I have a friend who adds ripe olives for a hint of flavor. The corn is optional, but I like it in combination with the other ingredients. Be creative and enjoy. See the similar and related recipes links for additional stuffed vegetables and variations. This recipe can easily be halved.

Ingredients

Preheat oven to 350° F. Clean the peppers. Slice off the top and remove the core and seeds. If peppers do not stand by themselves, take off just enough of the bottom to make it level, being very careful not to make a hole to the inside. Chop the removed portions and reserve for later use.

Brown the ground beef in a medium skillet, breaking apart any large lumps. Drain off excess fat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the onions and reserved chopped green peppers; sauté until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 5 minutes more. Transfer the ground beef mixture to a large bowl, using a slotted spoon. Add the cooked rice, chopped tomatoes, oregano, corn, Parmesan cheese and all but 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese and blend well. Taste for seasoning. Stir in additional salt, pepper, oregano or Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Spoon the rice mixture into the prepared peppers, packing firmly but not too tight. Place the stuffed peppers in a baking dish, placing them side-by-side to help hold each other upright. Drizzle with the reserved tomato juices. Cover and bake for 1 hour, or until peppers are tender and stuffing is thoroughly heated. Remove cover; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese. Return to the oven or place under broiler until cheese is melted and slightly browned.

Notes: To make stuffed zucchini, cut 2 large zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the center, reserving the scooped out portion for use in the stuffing. Do the same with eggplant. You can easily substitute any size peppers or squash. If there is extra stuffing, it can be spooned between the peppers in the baking dish or you can reserve and freeze it for another time. Leftover stuffed peppers can be frozen and reheated, covered, at 350° F for about 1-1/2 hours.