Sausage, Mozzarella & Basil Stuffed Peppers
My grandma loved stuffing any vegetable that she could get her hands on. She routinely made stuffed peppers, stuffed zucchini and stuffed eggplant, to name a few. I imagine that it was an easy and cost-effective way to use up the exorbitant amount of vegetables that came streaming out of my grandfather’s garden. Being the awful, veggie-hating child that I was, when served one of her stuffed vegetables, I would eat up all of that yummy filling and leave behind a picked-at vegetable carcass. The worst part? I haven’t grown out of that; it’s still how I eat my stuffed peppers, even though I actually do like peppers. I really need to start being a better eater! I always thought that stuffed peppers were a very Italian dish (most likely because my grandma was always serving them up), but after a little research, I found that they’re actually enjoyed by many different cultures, in a variety of ways. Note to self: get your hands on chiles rellenos as soon as possible!
Last year when my Chief Culinary Consultant’s parents were up in Pittsburgh for the holidays, his mom whipped up some stuffed peppers for dinner. She used some hot turkey sausage from a local turkey farm, and wow! Talk about a transformation! That simple swap of using sausage instead of ground beef resulted in the best stuffed peppers any of us had ever eaten. She loaded them with lots of cheese and other seasonings, but the sausage stole the show. I can’t imagine stuffed peppers any other way now.
Stuffed peppers are one of those easy meals that can be made even easier by making them ahead of time and freezing them. You can do it one of two ways: either make the filling and portion it out in smaller containers and freeze; or, you can assemble the peppers, but instead of baking them, set them on a baking sheet in the freezer until they are set, then wrap in plastic wrap and place in airtight containers in the freezer.
I had the opportunity to give some new Glad Freezerware a spin recently and found that they were perfect for this particular job. If you have any freezer-friendly meals that you plan to make, these would be a huge help. Whether you do once-a-month-cooking to stock your own freezer, or maybe making some meals for a friend who’s having a baby, you can easily store many meals in these containers. They’re BPA-free and can go from the freezer straight to the microwave, so reheating your meal is a breeze. Planning ahead makes me feel so… organized. I need to do it more often! 😉
I’d like to set aside maybe a day a month to focus on stocking the freezer with some easy meals, since some days I can get too wrapped up in baking and forget to eat real food. It would be great to be able to pull something out of the freezer and just pop it in the microwave or oven. Do you stock your freezer? If so, what are some of your favorite freezer meals?
Now, you must try these best-stuffed-peppers-ever-invented! Go all out and make some mashed potatoes to go along with them – a match made in heaven!
Sausage, Mozzarella & Basil Stuffed Peppers
6 bell peppers, tops cut off, core and seeds removed and discarded
1½ pounds Italian sausage (sweet, mild or hot)
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked white rice
15-ounce can tomato sauce
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
Salt and pepper, to taste
14-ounce can beef broth
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Fill a large stockpot with water and bring to a boil over a high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the bell peppers. Cook until the peppers just begin to soften, 3 to 5 minutes, using a spoon to keep the peppers submerged in the water. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove peppers from the pot, drain off excess water, and set aside to cool.
3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute the sausage, onion and garlic together until the sausage is browned and no longer pink. Remove from the heat and stir in the rice, tomato sauce, cheese and basil. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Place the peppers cut-side up in a baking dish large enough to hold them all (it will vary depending on the size of your peppers). Using a large spoon, divide the filling evenly amount the peppers. Drizzle a little of the beef broth evenly over top of the peppers, and then pour the rest into the bottom of the pan. Bake until heated through, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately.
Disclaimer: As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received Glad Freezerware and a stipend. All content and opinions are my own.
Between now and June 30th, everyone who shares freezer-friendly recipes and meal-planning tips on Glad’s Facebook page is eligible to win great prizes. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/GLAD.[/donotprint]