stuffed peppers with vegetables & sausage
Did you know that there are male and female bell peppers?
Indeed there are--thank you UC Davis and the plant biology requirement, PLB 143, where we learned the history of produce and then tasted it! Bell peppers with an odd number of bumps on the bottom (typically 3) are male, while bell peppers with an even number of bumps--4--are female!
Why do you care about the sex of bell peppers?
This is useful information because female bell peppers have more seeds (nature!). So when I am making a salad or something where I need to cut and clean the pepper to be chopped, I always go for a male pepper. Less seeds, less work! But in the case of stuffed peppers where I need to the pepper to sit in a baking dish and stand up, female is the way to go--there is a reason why most tables have four legs rather than 3… The Future is Female, especially when making this recipe.
So about stuffed bell peppers.
I was inspired to make my own recipe these after a friend made stuffed peppers while we were at Lake Berryessa a few years ago. Great for a crowd, simple to prepare, and beautiful! These are low carb (not that I am counting), and loaded with veggies. You can definitely substitute out the sausage for a veggie or vegan alternative, or just skip it. I love Italian sausage though so it’s staying when I make it! Also, this recipe is fantastically easy to scale up or down--maybe it’s just a quick weeknight dinner for two or a large family gathering! I have set it for 6 servings so I can also have a couple as leftovers!
• • •
Stuffed Bell Peppers with Sausage and Vegetables
1 zucchini, chopped
1 summer squash, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 large celery stalks, chopped
½ sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
6 medium sized bell peppers
~3/4 lb of sweet Italian sausage
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt, pepper, chili flakes to taste
1 tablespoon of Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon fresh chopped herbs (rosemary, thyme)
1 cup of mozzarella
½ cup parmesan cheese
Large Baking Sheet (lined with foil and sprayed with non-stick spray)
Knife & cutting board
Saute pan or skillet
Active: ~35 minutes (chopping, sautéing, stuffing)
Inactive: ~30 minutes
1. Prepare vegetables by chopping them to a like size, about ¼-⅓ inch cubes, to promote even cooking. Prepare the peppers by removing their stem. It’s like carving a pumpkin: stabilize the pepper with one and in your knife hand, carve out the stem in a circular cut. Pull out the stem. With a metal spoon, remove the seeds and the white membranes.
2. Cook and brown the sausage over medium-high in a skillet or saute pan. Remove from the heat and put sausage onto a paper-towel lined plate to soak up extra grease.
3. Preheat the oven to 375F.
4. In the same pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and saute carrots and onions for about 2 minutes. Add in celery and garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and then zucchini and summer squash. Cook for about 3 minutes or until the squash is soft. Season with salt, pepper, chili flakes, italian seasoning, and fresh herbs.
5. Add sausage to vegetables and stir until evenly mixed. Using a large spoon, stuff peppers! Add filling, gently shake side to side, and add more filling. Repeat until full. Do not jam in filling. Fill all peppers.
6. Place peppers in baking dish and top with parmesan and mozzarella.
7. Bake peppers at 375 for 25-30 minutes or until the peppers are tender. Check tenderness with a sharp knife: if the blade can run thru easily, then the pepper is ready. If it takes a lot of effort, bake for 5 more minutes.
8. Let the peppers cool for ~10 minutes and then serve! Enjoy!
Notes & Tips
-The order of sautéing vegetables is based on cooking time! Carrots take the longest to soften so I add them first with the onions.
-Feeling cheesy? Add an additional ½ cup of parmesan to the filling off the heat!
-Not in the mood to chop? Trader Joe’s and lots of grocery stores have “Mirepoix” (celery, carrots, onion) ready to go as well as other veggies ready to be cooked.
-The beauty of these peppers is you can put in what you want! If you have roasted butternut squash in the fridge, add that! If you have a random cup of leftover rice, add that!