I have always loved stuffed peppers. It doesn't matter if they are little tiny peppers stuffed with cheese or spicy jalapenos stuffed with meat, or big bell peppers stuffed with veggies, rice and sausage…I love them all.
My mom used to make stuffed peppers often when I was a kid and they were so delicious. Unfortunately, looking back on them now, two of the ingredients were Campbell's Chicken Gumbo soup and Velveeta cheese…not exactly Real Food ingredients, now that we know better! But boy did those things taste fantastic! 😉
I had experimented with different recipes over the years but never found something I loved…UNTIL my good friend, Lauren, over at Simple Dinners turned me on to her stuffed pepper recipe. I tweaked it a bit and changed some of the ingredients to be more nourishing and “Real” and will say this has become one of our favorite dinner dishes! I have even been known to eat the leftovers for breakfast!
The stuffing is easy to make and I often double the recipe and freeze the stuffing in batches to have on hand for a quick and easy dinner.
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil, ghee or butter
- 1 lb Italian sausage (casings removed) (from pastured pig if possible)
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 carton of mushrooms, diced (about 8 oz)
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- sea salt and pepper
- 1 or 2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan (divided)
- 3 cups cooked rice (I used brown rice that I had soaked overnight)
- 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I make my own with stale sprouted wheat bread)
- 5 large bell peppers (any color) halved lengthwise with seeds and ribs removed.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp of oil/ghee over medium high heat. Add sausage and cook, breaking up meat with a spoon until browned, about 5 minutes.
- With a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a bowl.
- Keep sausage fat in the skillet (unless it is excessive. If you use pastured pork, it won't be excessive). Add 1 tbsp oil/ghee if necessary.
- Sautee zucchini, mushrooms, onions, garlic and paprika until tender, about 8 minutes.
- Add veggie mixture to the bowl of sausage.
- Add about 1/4 cup parmesan and the rice. If it is dry, you could add about a tbsp of oil or ghee. Stir to combine and season with sea salt and pepper.
- In a small bowl combine bread crumbs, 1/4 cup parmesan and 1 tbsp oil or ghee.
- Grease a baking sheet or dish with oil/ghee (I use a 9x12 pan). Arrange bell peppers cut side up in pan.
- Fill peppers with stuffing. (I really heap it in there!)
- Top with bread crumb mixture.
- Bake until bread crumbs are browned and peppers are tender, about 30 minutes. (Cover with foil toward the end if your bread crumbs are browning too quickly.)
- You can jazz up the seasonings to your liking. I usually use paprika but sometimes add a touch of cayenne or onion powder. Once it is mixed in the bowl, I taste and season accordingly.
- I have made this with ground beef (needs a lot of seasoning), chorizo (yum!) and a mixture of Italian sausage and beef. Have fun experimenting!
- I have never done this but I bet using quinoa, barley or another grain would be an interesting sub for the rice.
- If your peppers are small, you can fill the whole pepper, by cutting of the top and taking the seeds and ribs out. The peppers I buy always seem to be too big to do this but a whole stuffed pepper does make a beautiful presentation.
- Freeze extra stuffing and you will have an easy dinner on hand, perfect for a busy night!
- I have also added 2 cups of chopped spinach during the vegetable sautee part…a great way to get more greens.
- If you are going to buy bread crumbs, be sure to read ingredient labels! So many ‘plain' breadcrumbs are full of garbage ingredients. In a pinch I buy these bread crumbs.
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