When it’s as hot outside as it was this summer (and this week), the last thing I want to do at 5:00 p.m. is turn on the oven to bake something for dinner. But I still do, and here’s why:
These lovely bell peppers were part of our weekly share from our produce co-op, and a stuffed purple bell pepper just sounded like something I couldn’t pass up.
(For my home-decorating blog friends, the tablecloth is a recent purchase from a newly opened antique store here in town. I just love that the blue of a 25-plus-year-old tablecloth can match the blue of my kitchen walls so perfectly!)
My journey with stuffed peppers is ever changing. When I was a young girl and my mother made the dish, I did eat the meat inside, but refused to eat the peppers. That slowly evolved over the years, as did my recipe of choice. My mother didn’t use any fillers, but once I tried stuffed peppers with rice, I never went back; these days I prefer the brown kind.
My recipe derives from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook (©1986). Funny … when I went to look it up in the index, I saw it was on page 214. “I knew that,” I thought. “Page 214.” The wrinkled, stained page reminded me of all the times I’ve referenced this page throughout the years (because, of course, I can’t cook or bake without a recipe).
Betty’s ingredients include bell peppers, ground beef, onion, rice, salt, garlic salt, tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese. In past years, based on our garden crop, I have substituted sweet banana peppers, which work rather nicely, bringing a sweeter and more mild pepper flavor to the dish. I’ve also used turkey in place of the beef, and meatloaf mix works as well. And every time, I switch out the mozzarella cheese with a nice colby-jack, for added flavor.
This is a relatively easy dish to prepare, and great if you need something to put in the oven before guests come for dinner. It also cuts up nicely for leftovers for lunch the next day … my husband will attest to that.
The impending storm promises cooler weather, at least for a few days, so it’s a good time to find some fresh peppers at your favorite local market, turn on that oven, and give this dish a try. Your kids don’t like peppers, you say? Then I suggest this route:
But for my grown-up friends with grown-up palates, let me suggest the classic route. I don’t know the Italian translation for that — l'itinerario classico seems a little too literal — but who cares? What matters is this:
(Click here to view
and print recipe)