The first touch of autumn is definitely here, and the bell peppers are abundant at the local farmers market. They come in the standard-issue green along with yellow, orange, red, and variegated colors. And they are big and just begging to be stuffed with your favorite filling. My mother always used her favorite meat loaf mix. That’s pretty much the traditional approach, but you can branch out with whatever filling pleases you, such as rice, mixed vegetables including fresh corn, or even shrimp or crab. Suit yourself, but enjoy one of the real treats of the fall season. This recipe is easy to make and uses Italian sausage to provide not only the protein but also aromatic Italian seasonings. Depending upon your preference, choose hot or sweet (mild) sausages.
Stuffed Bell Peppers
4 fresh bell peppers, free of blemishes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 large Italian sausages, casing removed
6 white mushrooms, washed and chopped
1 ½ Cups cooked brown rice
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ Cup panko + more for the top
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
6 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature
2 ounces Swiss cheese, grated and divided
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon butter
1. Prepare pepper casings by slicing off the top to form a cap. Reserve the caps. Remove the seeds and ribs of the peppers. Place in boiling salted water, return to the boil and boil for 10 minutes. Remove, drain, cool, and set aside.
2. In a medium skillet heat the oil on medium and combine the chopped onions. Sauté the onions until they are translucent but not browned. Add the sausage, stirring to break apart, and cook until well browned. Stir in the chopped mushrooms and sauté an additional 3 minutes. Cool
3. Transfer the sausage mixture to a medium bowl and combine the brown rice, eggs, panko, tomato paste, cream cheese, and half the Swiss cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir until well combined.
4. Spoon the stuffing mixture into each of the pepper casings. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining Swiss cheese and panko and dot with butter. Cover with the reserved caps and place in a baking dish sprayed with vegetable oil spray.
5. Bake in the middle of a preheated 350° oven for 45 minutes or until the peppers are slightly blistered and the cheese has melted. Serve while still warm
Yield: Serves four