I have tried a few stuffed bell pepper recipes over the years, and this is definitely my favorite. I like how it uses simple ingredients, is easy to put together, and creates a very flavorful result. The recipe calls for store-bought pasta sauce, although you can certainly use homemade if you have some on hand (or in your freezer). I used Trader Joe’s brand tomato and basil sauce, and it was delicious, especially after adding some red wine to it, as the recipe suggests.
If you are sometimes tempted to substitute dry herbs for fresh, as I am, I think the fresh parsley is really worth purchasing for this recipe (or maybe you even have some growing in your garden, but probably not as winter approaches ). The fresh parsley really brightens the flavor of the beef and rice filling.
I once made these for some friends who had a new baby, and it was a great meal give. If you are making a dinner to bring to someone, and want something different than the usual lasagna or casserole, give these stuffed peppers a try. You can assemble the peppers at home, place them in a baking dish with the sauce, and then your friends can just bake them when they’re ready to eat. (They do take a little longer than the usual 20 minutes to heat up if they’re coming out of the refrigerator.)
I’m sorry about the poor photo- I’ve tried twice now to get a good photo of this meal, and that is really hard to do with stuffed peppers! Trust me, they taste so much better than the photo shows. These stuffed peppers are both fun to eat and taste delicious, making them a kid- and adult-friendly meal!
Makes 4 servings
- 1 (3 1/2-ounce) bag boil-in-bag brown rice
- 4 bell peppers (I used all red this time, but it’s fun to use a variety of colors!)
- 3/4 pound ground sirloin
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 1/4 cups bottled tomato and basil pasta sauce, divided
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Set aside.
- While rice cooks, cut tops off bell peppers. Discard seeds and membranes.
- Place peppers, cut sides down, in an 8-inch square baking dish. Microwave on high 2 minutes or until peppers are crisp-tender. Cool.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and next 5 ingredients; cook 4 minutes or until beef is lightly browned and cooked through, stirring to crumble. Remove from heat. Add rice, 3/4 cup pasta sauce, and cheese to beef mixture, stirring to combine.
- While beef cooks, combine 1 1/2 cups pasta sauce and red wine in a small saucepan; bring to a boil.
- Spoon beef mixture into bell peppers, dividing equally among peppers. Place peppers in baking dish; add wine mixture to bottom of dish. Cover with foil.
- Bake at 450 for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve peppers with sauce.
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light: Cook Smart Eat Well