• Tommy Centola

Stuffed Bell Peppers inexpensive dinner idea

Coming from a large family, dinners were often inexpensive. That does not mean that they were not delicious. My mother was one of the best at making a tasty dinner without breaking the bank, which is no easy task when there were nine people at the table. Stuffed Bell Peppers were a great way to stretch a budget. There is no limit to what you can stuff bell peppers with. They key is to steam the peppers before you stuff and cook them, to ensure their doneness. So today, I will share two different recipes for Stuffed Bell Peppers, a traditional one and one with the seafood of the season, crawfish.

When most people think of Stuffed Bell Peppers, the following recipe is what is more often thought of. This is a simple way to cook a delicious dinner on a budget. This recipe resembles Dirty Rice with the addition of tomato sauce. Of course, if your not a fan of tomatoes, you can substitute some cream of celery soup to ensure the rice does not dry out.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

6 Green Bell Peppers, tops cut away and seeds removed

2 tablespoons Canola Oil

1 cup Onions, minced

1/2 cup Green Bell Pepper, minced

1 pound Ground Beef

1 tablespoon Garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh Parsley, chopped

3/4 teaspoon Salt

1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper

2 cups cooked White Rice

8 ounce can Tomato Sauce

Water

Preheat oven to 350℉.

In a large pot of boiling water, parboil the peppers until just tender, 2-3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and dry on paper towels.

In a large sauté pan or skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and bell peppers and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the beef, garlic, parsley, salt and black pepper. Cook until the meat is browned, stirring with a heavy wooden spoon to break up the lumps, about 6 minutes. Add the rice and tomato sauce and stir well. Remove from heat and adjust the seasoning to taste.

Pour enough water into a 8x8-inch baking dish to just cover the bottom, about 1/8-inch deep. Stuff the bell peppers with the rice mixture and place in the baking dish. Bake until the peppers are very tender and the filling is heated through, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

As we are coming to the end of crawfish season, here is a stuffed pepper with a seafood twist. But don’t think you can only have this dish in the spring. Peeled crawfish tails are available in the freezer section of your grocery store. Just remember to use Louisiana crawfish tails. Read the packages. They may have a Cajun brand name but that does not mean they are domestic tails.

Crawfish Stuffed Peppers

4 Bell Peppers

2 tablespoons Butter

1 large Onion, diced

2 cloves Garlic, minced

1 cup Crawfish Tails, cooked and peeled

1 tablespoon Creole Seasoning

1/4 cup Sherry, or Seafood Stock

1 cup Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 1/2 cups cooked White Rice

4 Green Onions, green part only, finely sliced

2 tablespoons Breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven ot 350℉.

Slice tops off of the peppers, about 1/2-inch down, reserving the tops. Clean out seeds and white membrane. Place peppers upside down in a colander over a pot of simmering water, removing after 3 minutes, being careful not to over cook. Allow to cool.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add crawfish and Creole seasoning. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the sherry or stock and simmer until reduces by half. Remove from heat and stir in the mushroom soup until thoroughly mixed. Stir in rice and green onions. Stuff 1/4 of this mixture into each of the steamed bell peppers. Top with Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Place together in a greased 8x8-inch baking dish and bake for about 10 minutes. Place tops back on and bake another 10 minutes. Serve with tops on or on the side as a garnish.

As much as I like to prepare and eat fancy dishes, most of my favorites are still down home cooking. Stuffed Peppers are in that category. With a little experimentation, I know you can come up with your own version.

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