Stuffed Peppers

Following a gluten free diet is getting easier and easier.  In the beginning, it was almost impossible to eat out.  Then their was the shopping nightmares of reading every label and hoping you get it right.  Learning the code words for items that might contain gluten was an experience.  Now items are labeled and allergy information listed.  What a blessing!

When venturing out to new restaurants it is also a good idea to look on-line for a menu or looking up a restaurant at Gluten Free Registry.  When someone asks you if rice has gluten, it is a sure give away that you might want to use caution with them.  Many places have special gluten free menus that actually look like menus.  There are some that provide an allergy menu with all potential allergies listed.  I hate those!  It takes forever to sort through and find something that is safe to order.

Recently, I phoned ahead and was asked if rice had gluten.  I told them it depended on what they cooked it with.  Yet they seemed to understand that if their chicken was marinated in soy sauce that it probably contained gluten.  I decided to skip the restaurant and head home for a safe gluten free sandwich.  Thinking of rice lead me to make Stuffed Peppers.  Everytime I make them I remember my intro into the dish.  I must have been somewhere around 5 years old and my mother bought frozen stuffed peppers that were topped with creole sauce.  I loved them and every time I make them I think of my mother.

Many cultures have a version of the beloved pepper.  Wikipedia tells us that a variety of cuisines contain their own version of this versatile vegetable.  There is even a typical American stuffed pepper as well as many different ways to cut the pepper before stuffing.  If I am using small peppers I will usually leave them whole where if the pepper is large I cut them from steam to bottom before stuffing.  The recipe I use is a version by Betty Crockers.  However, you stuff them they are still inexpensive and make a quick evening meal.  And yes rice can have gluten depending on what you add during cooking or prep.

The recipe calls for ground beef but I like ground turkey because it is leaner.  You could spice them up a bit if you like with Italian sausage removed from casings.  The rice can either be brown or white.  When cooking for the 2 of us I usually cook a full recipe of Alton Brown’s Baked Brown Rice and freeze it in 1 cup servings.

Stuffed Peppers

  • 4 small bell peppers or 2 large, any color
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground turkey or ground beef can be used
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce or 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce, divided
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

In a dutch oven add enough water to cover peppers, lightly salt the water and bring o a boil.  Add in peppers and precook for 3 to 5 minutes.  Remove from water and drain on paper towels while preparing the filling.

Preheat oven to 350°.  In a 10 inch skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add in onion and saute until soft, add in the garlic and cook just until fragrant.  Crumble in ground turkey or beef.  Cook, breaking up with a potato masher until meat is cooked through and no longer pink.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the cooked rice and 1 cup of tomato sauce.  Stir to combine and continue to cook just to warm.  Spray a 2 quart casserole with non-stick cooking spray.  Place prepared bell peppers in dish and fill with meat and rice mixture.  If you have extra filling just place it around the peppers.  Pour the remaining tomato sauce over all.  Cover tightly with foil and bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Remove foil and bake 10 more minutes.  Sprinkle with grated cheese and continue to cook until cheese is melted.

Delicious with a mixed green salad or vegetable.

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