Growing up, I always loved when my mom made stuffed peppers. They looked so fancy, even though they were simple to make. I would always want the one that was overflowing with the beef mixture and smothered in sauce. When my mom made them, she used green bell peppers. That’s the way she was taught to make them. As a grown up, I like to make stuffed peppers, but I enjoy using different colored bell peppers. This time I made ones with green bell peppers and orange bell peppers. I would have used red bell peppers too, but I only had one that I needed for a smoothie. So…green and orange were good enough.
– 6 bell peppers, any color, top cut off and seeded
– 1 lb of ground beef
– 1 cup of brown rice
– 1 jar of pasta sauce, reserve 1/4 cup pasta sauce (I used tomato basil pasta sauce)
– 1 small can of tomato paste
– 2 minced garlic cloves
– 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
– 1/2 tablespoon of salt
– 1/2 tablespoon of pepper
– 1 teaspoon of dried basil
– 1/4 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
– Half a package of Italian blend shredded cheese, reserve 1/4 cup of cheese
Start out by browning the ground beef on the stove in a skillet, and cook the brown rice in a pot at the same time. Cook the rice according to package instructions. I used Minute Rice to keep things quick and easy. Season the ground beef with salt and pepper as you’re browning it. Once the ground beef is done, drain the fat. Add the ground beef to the pot with the rice. Then add the jar of pasta sauce, tomato paste, minced garlic, oregano, dried basil, and chopped parsley. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta sauce for later. Let this simmer for a few minutes over low heat while stirring the ingredients. Add in half a package of shredded cheese and stir until the cheese is melted. I used an Italian blend, but you can always use whatever type of cheese you prefer. If you want, set a small amount of the cheese aside to top the bell peppers with when you’re assembling them to go into the oven.
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. I like to pre-cook my bell peppers in boiling water before putting them in the oven. You can cook them through completely in the oven, if you want, but I think it’s faster if you pre-cook them. I cut the tops off the bell peppers and remove the seeds. Then I add them to a pot of boiling water until they are fork tender. While the bell peppers are pre-cooking, I spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish. Once they are fork tender, I drain the water and line the peppers up in the dish. Next, I spoon the ground beef mixture into the bell peppers, packing it down with a spoon. I like them to be completely filled. Then I add just a little bit of pasta sauce to the top so that it drizzles down the sides, and I usually add a sprinkle of shredded cheese on top to make it look pretty. You can skip the extra cheese if you don’t want it.
Put the casserole dish into the oven and cook for about 20 minutes. You want the cheese on top to be melted and for the bell peppers to be very tender. If you did not pre-cook the bell peppers, you will need to let them cook for about 50-60 minutes to really get them tender. If you pre-cooked them, you are basically just making sure all of the ingredients are cooked through. Once they’re done, you have a fancy stuffed bell pepper that kids and adults can both appreciate.