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Italian Meatless Stuffed Peppers

Issues about "biting off more than we can chew" of red meat which includes lamb, pork and beef has become news in health related and nutrition articles.


Cutting back on "red meat" doesn't mean we should eliminate it completely from our diet unless you decide to do so or have to for health reasons. Selected fish and seafood are healthier alternatives as are poultry, beans, grains and vegetables.

Measuring meat into smaller portions of 2 to 3 ounces (cooked weight) sounds somewhat skimpy when select restaurants offer 6, 8 or up to 16-ounce portions of meat. 

One trick to cut back and eat smaller healthier portions of meat is to make meals tastier by loading on extra vegetables such as sauteed onions and mushrooms on a burger or adding vegetables like carrots, mushroooms, peppers, peas, zucchini, tomatoes, onions and celery to meatballs, meatloaf and sauces. Filling sandwiches or tacos with pepper slices or anything you could add into a green salad will fool your mind as to how much meat you are eating.

Everyone has their favorite or a few favorite recipes for stuffed peppers. Here I offer you one of my many takes on stuffed peppers. They are a great alternative to a meatless meal. The bread, pepper tops, onions, garlic and Parmigiano cheese gives flavor while the additon of Sicilian olives adds a nice salty bite.

As an alternative to frying the peppers to develop a charred skin, I have chosen to char the peppers under the broiler and then surround them with the marinara sauce to finish baking in the oven.

This might seem like a large recipe but I assure you will enjoy the convenience of having leftovers during the week to reheat for lunch, a snack or as a side dish. 

Ingredients

7 red, green, yellow or orange bell peppers, seeded, tops cut off and set aside

8 – 10 slices stale Italian bread or country loaf bread, crumbled

1-2 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped

7 tops of peppers, trimmed and chopped

3 large cloves garlic, minced

7-8 large pitted green Sicilian olives, chopped

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese

3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2-3 cups leftover marinara sauce or 1 large (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

Dry oregano or fresh basil 

Directions

Heat oven to HIGH broil and place a rack 6-8 inches from heat element. Place peppers on a large oven proof baking pan, 1-2 inches deep. Drizzle peppers with a little oil and rub on peppers.

Place crumbled bread in a large bowl, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup water; set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet over low heat. Sauté onion and pepper tops until translucent, then stir in garlic. Let garlic cook for 2 minutes then stir vegetables into soaked bread. Add olives, grated cheese, olive oil, parsley, black pepper and red pepper flakes if using. Mix until well blended.

Fill oiled peppers with stuffing, return to baking pan and place under the broiler to char. This will happen quickly. Remove pan from the oven and turn peppers with long handled tongs and a large long handled spoon to hold in filling and carefully char the other sides. Remove from the oven.

Adjust oven temperature 350 degrees. Add a sprinkle of dry oregano and/or fresh torn basil to the marinara sauce and 1/4 cup water if necessary. Surround filled charred peppers with sauce. Cover with foil. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until peppers are cooked. Uncover for the last 10 minutes of baking, and baste occasionally with sauce. Makes 7 servings or 14 side dish servings

Cook’s Tip: Brown or black rice or gluten free bread can make this tasty dish into a gluten-free vegetarian meal. Stuffed peppers will stay fresh in the fridge for 3 days and can be frozen in an air tight container up to 2 months.

This recipe is from Amelia's Kitchen 2/19/2013

I would love to hear from you!

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