Stuffed Peppers for Lindsey

I promised this blog would be my last recipe for gluten-free gnocchi; however, I am delaying that until later this week. A few weeks ago our oldest daughter Lindsey returned to college, but before leaving she asked me to develop some recipes for her to cook at school. One of her favorites is stuffed peppers. My home version looks and tastes great but is too labor-intensive for a college dorm where equipment is limited to microwaves and convection ovens (frequently combined in one), toaster ovens, hot plates, refrigerators and freezers (also a two-in-one appliance).

My stuffed peppers at home start with whole peppers hollowed out and stuffed with turkey-rice filling seasoned with a variety of fresh and dried herbs and spices and fresh chopped garlic and onions. In adapting the recipe for the college dorm I tried to rely on ingredients that she would normally have on hand (mustard, ketchup, canned tomato and pasta sauce, pre-grated Parmesan). I also substituted ingredients that offered “instant” convenience that she could purchase and store in the pantry for long periods: dried minced onion, dried oregano (one of her favorite flavors), and instant rice.

Next I halved the peppers (after coring and seeding them). A stuffed half pepper can be heaped up with turkey filling, will rest on its back while baking without falling over, and, best of all, once cooled, can be individually wrapped and frozen for reheating in the microwave. When baking the peppers, they all fit neatly into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch glass baking pan. Just squeeze the sides and fit them in as if doing a jigsaw puzzle. When the peppers are baked, run a dinner knife around each pepper to separate it from its neighbor. Of course I used red, yellow and orange peppers; my kids complain that green peppers are “bitter.” By using instant rice in the turkey mix, there is no need to add eggs for binders.

uncooked-stuff-peppers

This recipe can be cut in half. Divide all ingredients in half except the tomato sauce; go ahead and use the whole can.

Stuffed Peppers for Lindsey

Yield: 12 half peppers

Ingredients

  • 2 to 2 ¼ pounds ground turkey
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup mustard, preferably Dijon
  • ¼ cup dried minced onion
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (7- to 8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup instant brown or white rice
  • 6 large red, orange, or yellow peppers, or a combination
  • 3 cups (24-ounce jar) plain pasta sauce (smooth, no chunks)
  • Grated Parmesan, or shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, as needed, optional

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl mix together the turkey, ketchup, mustard, onion, oregano, salt and tomato sauce. Stir well.
  2. Add tomato sauce and stir.
  3. Add rice and stir to mix. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Cut top off peppers and save for other use. Halve peppers lengthwise. Remove all core, seeds and white pith.
  5. Divide turkey stuffing among peppers, packing firmly. Flatten ends and round tops.
  6. Place all peppers side-by-side and end-to-end in a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking dish that has been lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. To help peppers fit, squeeze sides together.
  7. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spoon pasta sauce over and around peppers. Spray a piece of aluminum foil, cut to fit top with 2-inch overlap at each end, lightly on one side with nonstick cooking spray. Place foil, sprayed side down, on top and crimp at both ends.
  8. Place casserole on a half-sheet pan and bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and sprinkle tops with cheese if using. If not using cheese, spoon sauce over tops. Return to oven and bake until sauce reduces and cheese, if using, is melted and lightly browned, 20 more minutes.
  9. Run a table knife around each pepper to separate it from other peppers. Serve with a spoonful of sauce drizzled on top.
  10. To freeze, cool to room temperature and wrap each pepper in plastic wrap. Freeze for up to 1 month. Unwrap and reheat in the microwave.

Notes

Variation: Reduce recipe by half except for tomato sauce; use the whole can.

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