We had one of my favorite visitors this week, my Dad. We spent a half hour stuck in traffic on the 405 with my kids and spent the entire time negotiating what we were going to make for dinner. After much discussion it was decided that we would stuff bell peppers. My younger son had his heart set on inventing his very own stuffing mix. Though initially my father and I lobbied for a single collaborative effort, my son insisted on doing a batch on his own. I must admit, his stuffed peppers rock. This recipe was invented by my 8 year-old who meticulously chopped all of the ingredients listed here and tasted his mixture after each new ingredient was added. In the next few days I’ll post a second recipe that was a collaborative effort between my father and me. If you make both recipes drop me a comment and let me know which one you like better. I won’t be offended if you choose my son’s – he’s got a gift that one.
Bell Pepper Blast (4 servings)
- 4 large red, yellow or orange bell peppers
- ½ cup diced green onions
- 4 teaspoons cilantro, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes (we used the little grape tomatoes)
- 1 cup grated Mexican cheese mix (or grated cheddar cheese)
- 1 lb ground beef (preferably grass-fed organic)
- 1 cup cooked white or brown rice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 ½ cups chopped canned tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- grated Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Cut the top ½ inch off of the peppers and reserve. Scoop seeds from the pepper cavities using a small spoon. Discard the stems and seeds, chop up the pepper tops.
Brown the meat in a large skillet over medium/high heat. Once browned, drain the excess fat from the meat and place the cooked beef in a large bowl. Add onions, garlic and 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan in which you browned the beef, cook over medium/high heat for 5 minutes. Add the chopped bell pepper tops and sauté for three more minutes.
Transfer the onion/pepper mix to the large bowl with the browned meat. Add the rice, salt, pepper, green onions, cilantro, chopped fresh tomatoes, grated cheese and one cup of the chopped canned tomatoes, mix well. Put two tablespoons of olive oil in an oven-safe baking dish large enough to hold the peppers. Put the remaining canned tomatoes in the bottom of the roasting pan. Fill the peppers with the stuffing mix. Pack the peppers quite full as the stuffing will shrink while they are roasting. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on the top of each pepper (optional).
Place the stuffed peppers in the roasting pan. Place in the middle of the oven. Roast for 50 minutes. The bell peppers will still have a nice crunch, and the stuffing will be hot through. If you like your peppers softer, leave them in the oven a bit longer.