Friday, September 4, 2015

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Pepper with Chorizo  & Ro-Tel
My husband loves stuffed peppers, and they make such an easy meal, especially if there’s leftover rice available. The color doesn’t matter — green, red, yellow, or orange. They all taste great!

We’ve got a rice cooker, so we often make several cups of brown rice at a time. Usually with salt-free chicken broth to add more flavor. I often freeze 1-2 cup portions for later. But no matter what my original plan may be, I always make stuffed peppers with leftovers. I combine the cooked rice with seasoned ground meat, chopped onion, minced garlic, a bit of chicken broth, and often a canned tomato product of some sort (tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, etc). Most of the time, I favor a Mexican style seasoning (chili powder & cumin), but Italian (basil & oregano) or Greek (dill, oregano, & lemon) spice blends are delicious too.

Last week I made chorizo and rice stuffed peppers. I used 8 oz of chorizo from a local sausage maker. The store prides itself on producing pastured pork products of high quality (no snouts or entrails) and using a lot less salt than the name brands sold at grocery stores. I’ve also made my own homemade salt-free chorizo. Homemade Italian sausage is also quite good. For best results, I combine whatever spices I’m using with the ground meat at least a couple of hours before cooking. Letting the mixture chill overnight is even better.

Along with the rice & chorizo, I mixed in a generous amount of salt-free frozen corn. Added about ½ cup of salt-free chicken broth and about ¼ cup of a new favorite product — Salt Free Ro-Tel Tomatoes & Green Chilies. I stuffed the par-cooked peppers and poured the remainder of the Ro-Tel on top and around them. Into the oven for about 30 minutes until everything was heated through. Sometimes I’ll add a light sprinkling of cheese: Cheddar for Mexican; mozzarella or Parmesan for Italian; Feta for Greek. But the cheese is not necessary at all. The peppers are flavorful all on their own.

I don’t really follow an official recipe. The stuffed peppers can be adjusted to your particular tastes or what’s in your pantry or fridge. Use more rice if desired. Or less meat. Add whatever vegetables you think fit the flavor profile you’re targeting.

Stuffed Peppers

4 large bell peppers, any color
1½ - 2 cups rice, cooked with salt-free broth or water
½ - 1 lb ground meat of choice
Chopped onion
Minced garlic
Seasoning spices of choice (no salt added)
Vegetable of choice (salt free)
¼ - ½ cup low sodium broth of choice
¼ cup low sodium/salt free canned tomatoes for filling (optional)
Additional low sodium broth or canned tomatoes for pouring over peppers before baking

Combine seasoning spices with ground meat at least 1 hour before cooking. Letting the mixture chill longer improves the overall flavor.

Brown ground meat along with chopped onions & minced garlic. Drain excess fat if needed. Add vegetable, if using. Add broth & canned tomatoes. Simmer for a few minutes until everything is hot.
In the meantime, wash the peppers and cut off the tops. (reserve tops for another use) Discard seeds and membranes. (I use a melon baller & serrated grapefruit spoon) Place peppers, cut sides down, in a baking dish; cover with plastic wrap. Microwave at high 2 mins. Turn over with the hollowed sides facing upward; cover, and microwave again for 2 mins. Cool.

Ready for Baking
Stuff peppers with filling. Either save extra filling for another meal (burritos, tacos, omelets, etc.) or spoon extra around peppers. Pour ½ - 1 cup of low sodium broth or canned tomato product over the stuffed peppers.  

Cover and bake 30 minutes at 350° in a preheated oven until heated through and the peppers are tender.

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