|It tastes better than it looks, sweartoGod.|
Okay so here is the thing: when bell peppers first came into season here a couple of months ago, I started craving old-school stuffed peppers like MAD. You know, the ones your mom used to make back in the '70s, with the meat and the rice and the tomato sauce? OMG SO GOOD. Pure comfort food.
So I made them and P and C loved them and then they started wanting them every week and then I realized that these things are kind of a pain in the ass, what with parboiling the peppers and then stuffing them and arranging them in the baking dish and yeah. No wonder my mom didn't make them very often.
SO! I got lazy and came up with a casserole version. Basically it involves chopping the peppers and adding them to the filling instead of stuffing them. I probably didn't invent this, but whatever, my version only has five ingredients and it's super easy and you can customize the hell out of it based on how you and your family like to eat. And it makes a ton and is great for potlucks! And it freezes really well in case you're pregnant or have surgery coming up or whatever! Yay!
The recipe below is exactly how I make it, but scroll down for some ideas re: making it vegan or paleo/low-carb or whatever, if you're into that.
5-Ingredient Stuffed Pepper Casserole
4-6 large green bell peppers, chopped into large-ish pieces
2-4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups cooked jasmine rice (made from 1 cup uncooked rice)
2 15-oz. cans tomato sauce (we like Muir Glen Organic)
Cook meat in a giant skillet over medium-high heat just until no longer pink, then add chopped green peppers and minced garlic cloves and continue cooking, stirring frequently. Once the peppers are crisp-tender and the meat has browned a bit, remove from heat and mix in cooked rice and 1.5 cans of tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a large casserole dish or 9x13" pan and spread the rest of the tomato sauce on top. Bake covered for 45 minutes at 350 degrees F, then uncover and continue baking for another 10 minutes or so. Remove from oven and serve.
You can use whatever ground meat you want in this. Chicken, beef, turkey, lamb, venison, elk, pork, sausage, whatever, it'll all work. You just might need to add a little extra olive oil to the pan if you're using a really lean meat.
Not into meat? I haven't tried it, but I would imagine you could substitute 3-4 cups of cooked or canned legumes (lentils, black beans, etc.). Just saute the peppers and garlic in a little olive oil, remove from heat, and add the beans at the same time as the rice and tomato sauce. I don't think tofu would work, but maybe TVP? Seitan? Those Morningstar Farms crumbles? I don't know, man. Try it and report back.
I haven't tried this either but I'm 98% sure that you could substitute riced cauliflower or riced sweet potatoes for the actual rice. If you're using raw, I'd add it to the pan with the peppers and garlic so it gets a little pre-cook in. If you're using already cooked riced veggies (like those Green Giant frozen ones), I'd drain them really well, squeeze out as much moisture as you can, and add them when you'd normally add the rice.
Feel free to throw some chopped onion in there. C is allergic to onions so I leave them out. Also, you could throw some corn in there. Or some fancier peppers. Or meat AND beans. Or some raisins and cinnamon. I mean, however you like your stuffed peppers, just make that but chop and saute the peppers instead of stuffing them. You know? IT'S EASY.
I'm thinking there's got to be a way to adapt this for the slow-cooker, too. Just haven't quite figured it out yet.
Anyway, enjoy! If you try it and like it, let me know! If you try it and hate it, keep that shit to yourself. (Kidding! I'm kidding!)