Cooking On A Budget: Roasted and Stuffed Italian Bell Peppers

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Roasted and Stuffed Italian Bell Peppers

Clearly our pepper plants produced loads of peppers. We gave a good deal of them away as well as produced two batches of stuffed bell peppers, freezing a portion of those for us and giving some to family members. Well the last of the peppers were harvested last weekend and most of them were small and longer than the heartier looking and more rounded peppers of the earlier harvests.

The peppers were on my counter top and daily I walked by them pondering what to do with them. The physical look of the pepper reminded me of a poblano pepper; not as long and certainly not as dark but my mind wandered to the poblano.

Being a big Bobby Flay fan I immediately thought southwestern stuffed peppers. Something with chicken and Mexican spices and lots of cheese. However, when I got in the store I was not thinking about the peppers and never thought to get some chicken. The proteins I came home with were a ham, a turkey breast and some sweet Italian sausage - but no chicken. Needless to say that idea went out the window. Instead I went with an Italian theme using the sausage and decided whether I used all of them for this recipe or not they had to all get roasted or used in some way.

So what I did is roast all of them. Roasted them up in a 450° oven on a commercial sized baking sheet for about 40 minutes until the skins darkened and began to blister. When they came out of the oven I placed them in a large bowl and covered them with plastic wrap. That makes the peppers easier to peel and the juices from the pepper settle at the bottom of the bowl.

After 20 minutes or so you peel the skins and remove the stem and get out as many seeds as you can. DO NOT rinse to get the seeds off. You'll destroy the flavor of the roasted pepper. A few seeds won't hurt so don't go mental over it.

Don't worry if you can't find longer peppers - use any bell pepper you like for the recipe.

  •  12 roasted peppers prepared as directed above for roasting
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage - out of the casings (I used sweet, but hot is fine.)
  • 1 cup onion - small dice
  • 2 cups or so red sauce (spaghetti, marinara)
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 bag shredded mozzarella cheese (approximately 3/4 bag for filling, remainder for the top)
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. dried basil
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • cooking spray
  1. In a skillet over medium heat add the sausage to the pan and begin to break it down into small pieces. Keep turning and breaking it down until it is about half way cooked and add in the onions. Turn the heat down to medium low and stir. Cook the onions and keep breaking down the sausage as you go. Cook the onions for about 2 minutes.
  2. Next, add in the ricotta cheese and stir until combined and add in the Parmesan cheese and dried spices, salt and black pepper to taste. Add in about one cup of the red sauce and mix. Once combined remove from the heat and allow this to cool down.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350°.
  4. Once the mixture has cooled down, add in the mozzarella cheese (about 3/4 of the bag or a little less) and mix well.
  5. Spray a non stick baking dish or glass dish with a cooking spray as it makes clean up so much easier.
  6. Add about a half cup of red sauce to the baking dish, spreading it over the bottom.
  7. Stuff your peppers and add them in the baking dish. Pour a little sauce over each one and top with some of the cheese.

Bake in a preheated 350° covered with aluminum foil for about 30 minutes. Serve over pasta.

These peppers can be frozen. It may not be a weeknight meal to prepare but you could make this ahead on the weekend and pull it out during the week to bake! Allow extra baking time when baking after these have been refrigerated. These taste great and I especially loved the roasted pepper flavor as it added another dimension to the dish. The peppers do release some juice (still) when baked but you may want to have a little extra red sauce if you serve these over some pasta. All in all this is an appreciable way to use up the tail end of your gardens bounty.

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