Friday, September 17, 2010

Stuffed Peppers

Here's what Farmer John had for us in Silver Lake this week:

Summer squash
Red leaf lettuce
Dandelion greens
Garlic chives
Red tomatoes
Rainbow chard

And here's what Tara brought down from Underwood Family Farms:
Galia melon
Sharlyn melon
Kabocha squash
Easter radishes
Yellow wax beans
Green leaf lettuce
Orange bell pepper
Chocolate bell pepper
Yellow Brandywine tomatoes

And Silver Lake Farms provided delicious micro-greens - pea shoots and radish!

I love to make stuffed peppers. You can stuff almost any kind of pepper; and you can put almost any savory item in the filling. It's a great way to get creative and use whatever's in your fridge. All you need are some vegetables and a grain; meat and cheese are delicious options, too. With the beautiful orange and chocolate bell peppers in today's box, I couldn't resist making this wonderful treat.

I prefer cutting bell peppers in half lengthwise. One-half makes a nice side dish; two halves make a great main. Depending on the size of your peppers and how full you stuff them, you'll need about 2/3 C filling (or more) per half.

It's best to chop your vegetables into small pieces, but don't mince them. I like to saute all the vegetables before mixing them into the filling; that way some of the water is cooked out and the filling won't get soggy.

A nice, thick tomato sauce in an important component of my recipe. I've been making slow-cooked tomato sauce all summer with tomatoes from my garden. It freezes well for months. If you don't have your own sauce, use whatever tomato sauce you put on your pasta.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

This recipe is for 2 peppers or 4 halves. You can double this recipe if you wish.

2 medium bell peppers
1 T olive oil
1/4 lb bulk (or 1 link, casing removed) Italian sausage (optional)
1/2 small onion, chopped fine
1 small carrot, trimmed and chopped fine
1/2 rib celery, trimmed and chopped fine
1-2 small summer squash, washed and chopped into small pieces
2 leaves chard, washed, trimmed and chopped
3/4 C fresh corn kernels, removed from the ear
1-1/2 C cooked brown rice
2-1/2 to 3 C thick tomato sauce
grated cheese, optional
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut peppers in half lengthwise and set aside.

2. In a skillet over medium heat, heat 1 t olive oil and brown the sausage, breaking it up into small chunks as it cooks. When done, remove from pan, chop finely and set aside. Pour off any grease from pan and wipe clean.

3. In same skillet, heat remaining 2 t olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 1 minute. Turn down heat. Add carrots, celery and squash. Cover and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add chard and corn kernels. Cook until chard is wilted and vegetables are just soft. If necessary, uncover and cook off any excess liquid.

4. In a bowl, mix the cooked sausage (if you're using it) and the cooked vegetables together with the cooked brown rice. Add about 1/2 to 3/4 C thick tomato sauce - just enough for the mixture to hold together, but not so much that it's saucy. [If you'd like, you can add some grated cheese to this mixture, but I usually don't.] Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Fill each half pepper with the filling mixture.Place them snugly in an oven-proof baking dish. Top each pepper with 1-2 T tomato sauce and/ or 1 T grated cheese. Pour about 1/2 inch hot water in the bottom of the baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes.

6. Remove peppers from baking dish and serve each half pepper with 1/2 C thick tomato sauce. You can serve the pepper in a pool of sauce or pour the sauce over the pepper; or you can omit the sauce entirely if you prefer.

I'll post my recipe for slow-cooked tomato sauce next time.



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