Cooking with Toby: stuffed bell peppers, the choices and the cook

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To be honest, when I decided to use this for the recipe of the issue, I had never made stuffed bell peppers before. Not to worry I did try them before I got this out to you guys.

Now, I love stuffed peppers, especially the spicy kind, I am from Texas after all. They are pretty easy to do, but they do take time to prepare. When you make these, give yourself about an hour of free time before you plan to eat. Also this recipe is for eight peppers. Unless you have company, I recommend you make one or two peppers and then refrigerate the left over stuffing and then cook up some more peppers later for a quick dinner or lunch later on.

As far as my research has been able to find, Spain was the first nation that prepared stuffed bell peppers and from there it spread across Europe and the Mediterranean. India was stuffing peppers before Spain, but they were a different kind of pepper all together and the filling is entirely unknown to me. So in this article, I will focus on those variations that stem from the Spanish variety.

This time around, I will be putting a lot of choices into your hands on this one. There are several different colors of bell peppers and they all have a slightly different flavor. I do not know how to describe it so I will just say that I used yellow bell peppers for this, but you can pick your favorite.

Your typical filling is made from rice and meat. The meats can be anything really but for the sake of cost, we will just use ground beef. If you have a bigger budget you can use Italian sausage or if you are looking for lower fat, ground turkey would work just fine.

As for the rice, there are a ton of varieties that will work for this recipe. Minute rice is a cheap option but has almost no nutrients whatsoever. I used white basmati rice. It is a little pricey, but it is rich in iron and vitamin B. The only nutritional variation left to discuss is that all forms of brown rice are higher in fiber than white rice.

If you are interested in making this healthier, you can replace the rice with couscous or quinoa. I have seen some people using oats mixed in with the rice for higher fiber and more vitamin. However, I know very little about how to use the oats.

My recipe does call for a vegetable of your choice. I recommend one that gets softer as it is cooked but not mushy. Mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, or even beans are all examples. I used a sweet potato for mine simply because I had one lying around (and I’m obsessed with sweet potatoes). Choosing these will keep a smooth texture in the filling and bring out the light crunch of the peppers themselves, while still bringing variety to the flavor.

Many of the recipes I found call for tomato or pasta sauce, but I didn’t really like the idea of that so I left it out. If you want to use tomato sauce, use less water to cook the rice and add the sauce.

Now on to the recipe.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut the tops of the peppers off and remove the seeds and center vein. Place the peppers in the pot of boiling water for 10 minutes or until a fork can puncture them with ease. Remove the peppers and allow to drain upside down

Follow basic cooking instructions for your rice with the vegetable, 1 tsp of garlic, the parsley, the oregano, the rosemary, the coriander, ½ tsp pepper and 1 tsp salt.

Next cook the meat in a frying pan with 1 tsp garlic, ½ tsp pepper, 1 tsp salt, cayenne pepper and basil.

After the meat and rice are fully cooked, combine and start spooning the mixture into the peppers. Stuff until the rice and meat mixture rises about an inch and a half above the pepper. Top with cheese and allow it to melt before serving.

• 8 bell peppers

• 1 1/2 cups of rice

• 1/2 cup chopped vegetable of your choice

• 2 tsp garlic powder

• 1 tsp parsley flakes

• ½ tsp oregano

• ¼ tsp rosemary

• ½ tsp ground coriander

• 1 tsp black pepper

• 2 tsp salt

• 1 lb ground beef

• ½ tsp cayenne pepper

• ½ tsp basil

• Your choice of cheese

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