Friday, February 27, 2009

Recipes: Stuffed Peppers - From Comfort To Gourmet

When the chicken I had planned for tonight was taking too long to thaw, I needed a dinner rescue, and quickly. Some leftover sale mushrooms in the fridge and a couple pounds of lean ground beef got me thinking of stuffed peppers, but this is one dish I've flubbed before. The last time I attempted them (unfortunately, for company), the stuffing was delicious, but the peppers were, well, crunchy. Rather an unpleasant foil to the savoury goodness inside.

This time I was not to be "foiled" again. Boiling the halved and gutted green peppers first made all the difference! On the spur of the moment, leftovers on hand and quick-cook staples allowed me to whip together a simple but great stuffing, and thanks to the precooked peppers I was able to have a delicious - and healthy - meal on the table in about 20 minutes.

Simple Stuffed Peppers

2 large green peppers
1 c. minute rice, cooked
1 lb. lean ground beef
2 medium yellow onions, diced
1 c. button mushrooms, diced
1/2 tsp. onion salt
vegetable oil
3/4 c. cheddar cheese, grated

Clean peppers well and halve lengthwise, removing all seeds and pith. Bring to a boil in a pot of salted water, and boil for 8 minutes, then remove from heat. Meanwhile, scramble-fry beef over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Add onion, mushrooms, rice, and enough oil to prevent sticking, reduce to medium heat and continue cooking another 2 minutes. Add onion salt and salt to taste. Cover and remove from heat.
Drain peppers and arrange in casserole dish. Stuff with beef mixture, packing well. Any leftover mixture can be reserved for later. Top stuffed peppers with cheese and broil on high for 3 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Serve hot with any leftover stuffing, and add salad of mixed greens and a light vinaigrette.

My husband and my toddler both loved this quick meal, and A. suggested I consider using this recipe the next time we have company for dinner. A few simple tweaks turn this dish from cozy comfort food to company's-coming gourmet.

Gourmet Tweaks

Substitute 1 c. long grain & wild rice for minute rice, prepared according to directions.
Use provolone instead of cheddar cheese to top peppers.
Garnish with a cherry tomato.

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