Friday, August 27, 2010

Spanish Stuffed Bell Peppers

I grew up eating stuffed peppers of the rice and hamburger variety. As I watched my bell peppers accumulate, I wanted a stuffed pepper recipe that didn't resemble the stuffed peppers of my youth.

I love the internet. Instantly, 1000's of bell pepper recipes popped up and I got to choose between the traditional stuffed peppers and ethnic stuffed peppers (sometime, I really want to try Indian stuffed peppers. Mmm). I settled on a Rachael Ray recipe for Spanish stuffed peppers.

Those peppers were fabulous! I made 3 stuffed peppers and then cooked the rest of the stuffing in the oven (I knew M wouldn't eat it if it was inside a pepper). Everyone loved it! J even ate some of a pepper and little I had several servings. This is my new favorite stuffed bell pepper recipe.

My only complaint was with the leftovers. They quickly developed a very wine-y taste that I didn't notice the first time around. I think next time I may decrease the wine and increase the water/chicken broth instead. I also thought the ground chicken had no flavor and wasn't worht the extra cost. I'll substitute a mild sausage or lean ground beef next time as well. Brown rice gives the filling a wonderful texture (and more nutritional value too). The recipe calls for 6 bell peppers but you can cook however many you need (I only did 3).

Spanish Stuffed Bell Peppers
adapted from Rachael Ray

6 medium bell peppers (red preferable, but green will do), tops cut off
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 - 1 1/2 lbs ground meat (chicken, beef, or a mild sausage)
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c golden raisins
2 t sweet paprika
3/4 c dry sherry (or a combination of 3/4 liquid between chicken broth, water, or wine)
2 15-oz cans tomato sauce
1/2 c parsley, chopped
1/2 c slivered almonds, toasted
2 - 3 c cooked brown rice
2 c Manchego cheese, grated

Bring a pot of water to boil and blanch peppers in boiling water for 3 minutes or until just tender. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat olive oil. Add the ground meat and season with salt and pepper. Cook until brown, breaking it up into small pieces. Add the onion, garlic, raisins, and paprika. Continue to cook until the onion s are tender, about 3- 4 minutes. Add the sherry (or other liquid) and stir to get the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add 1 1/2 c of tomato sauce and cook 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley, almonds, and cooked rice.

Pour remaining 1/2 c of tomato sauce and a touch of water into a baking dish. Fill each pepper halfway up with rice mixture. Top with a little cheese and then fill to the top with more of the rice mixture. Top with some more cheese (so four layers--rice mixture-cheese-rice mixture-cheese). Set pepper in baking dish. Repeat with all the peppers. Put the leftover filling, if there is some, into a casserole dish and sprinkle generously with cheese. Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 375 degrees oven for 20 - 30 minutes or until cheese is melted.

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