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!
One year ago: Grilled Corn
Two years ago: Pea in a Pod Baby Shower Cookies
Three years ago: Pizzelle – Italian Waffle Cookies[/donotprint]
Sausage, Mozzarella & Basil Stuffed Peppers
- 6 bell peppers, tops cut off, core and seeds removed and discarded
- 1½ pounds (680.39 g) Italian sausage, sweet, mild or hot
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups (316 g) cooked white rice
- 15 ounces (425.24 ml) canned tomato sauce
- 8 ounces (226.8 g) mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 14 ounces (396.89 ml) canned beef broth
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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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]
Have used this recipe several times! One trick I’ve always done with stuffed peppers is to cut the peppers in half the long way, core & seed and parboil them (no more than 3 minutes). The presentation is still nice, and we just prefer the higher pepper-to-stuffing ratio (also makes the peppers go a little further)! We usually use pork sausage but just made it with chicken sausage and it was still excellent. I use a little more tomatoes — a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes since I like the little chunks in the stuffing, and a 15 oz can of tomato sauce. I use about 1 cup of beef broth rather than 14 oz. I usually use 1-2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning rather than fresh basil. We prefer the sausage stuffing to ground beef stuffing. Great recipe!
I’ve made these twice & love them! Thanks for sharing. My toddlers just eat the filling & it goes over well with them too! I can start feeding them while the peppers bake. Mine don’t last long enough to freeze, my husband and I take them for lunch the next day.
If I cover them, don’t boil them, would baking them at 350 for about an hour, then uncovering them to sprinkle cheese on top and melt that for 15 minutes be okay? I am just concerned about the oven temp/time
Hi Rachael, Unfortunately, I can’t give you a definitive answer because I have not cooked them that way. It sounds like you are happy with the way they have turned out for you in the past, so I would just keep doing what you’re doing!
Like you, I am an avid baker/chef. It is my ultimate passion. However, I am in need of your opinion…
My mom used to make me stuffed peppers with ground beef, COOKED rice, tomato sauce etc. She would boil the peppers before putting them in the oven (like your recipe), then bake them with cheese on top. My grandmother makes them frequently: but she does not boil the peppers before hand and she doesn’t cook the rice before putting it into the filling. They came out well. But my mother’s (if memory serves) were a bit mushier/softer and my grandmother’s have more of a crisp but still were soft and the rice is often undercooked.
When I cook them, they are meat-free since I am a vegetarian of 5 years. The vegetarian tastes just as good as the ones with the meat ones from my childhood. What I do is half cook the rice (or barley depending on my mood :p) before baking. I also do not boil the peppers before hand. I cover them with aluminum foil and bake for about 55-60 minutes at 350 and then uncover them, sprinkle cheese on top and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes until the cheese is a nice golden brown. They come out wonderfully pretty soft and the rice is done.
My question to you is do you believe that it is absolutely necessary to boil the peppers before putting them in the oven? I would think it is a texture preference (if you want mushier peppers boil them first, if you want them soft with a slight crisp then don’t) , but I am not quite sure…
Is it also necessary to cook the rice/meat? In my experience they come out better, but I fear overcooking them in the oven.
And lastly is my idea of covering them (I figured the steam would cook the peppers well and make them softer) then uncovering them for the last few minutes to melt cheese okay? Are MY times and oven temp right?
Would you suggest not covering them at all/is covering them really necessary (I adopted my recipe from this one http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/quinoa-stuffed-peppers-2/)?
I want to make (a meat version) for my boyfriend for dinner and I want them to be perfect. Could I use my covering method with meat peppers? Could I combine sausage and beef? (I am sorry for all the questions!!)
Hi Rachael, I think boiling the potatoes beforehand is a personal preference; if you like some crunch to them when they’re finished, then I would not boil them. Your idea of covering them, in essence steaming them, sounds like a great idea. I would say as long as you’re happy with the way the peppers and rice taste, then you’re doing it right! I would certainly cook the meat beforehand, and a combination of sausage and beef sounds great. As for the rice, I like cooking it beforehand as well because I’ve had issues with the rice being undercooked and crunchy if not. But if you’re cooking it long enough and it doesn’t come out underdone, then you should be okay.
I made these (using red peppers) a few days ago, and the result was amazing. I love this dish, and will make it again, and again…None of peppers survived for freezing :(
I make a risotto with italian sausages and tomatoes, and that tastes a lot like this stuffing, so you might want to try that some day.
Can you tell me if you freeze the peppers before the final cooking stage or after? Thanks. Looks delicious
Hi Patricia, You can freeze them after they are cooked.
These were to die for! I never make stuffed peppers because I am not a ground beef fan, but the sausage was delicious. I used some long peppers my boss picked up from a farmer’s market near her and it was the perfect filling to pepper ratio for me.
These were delicious!
What a wondefula nd novel idiea (not thestuffing in general :)
Thanks for this delectable recipe.
Thank you for sharing! My mom used to make stffeud peppers and I just loved them. I always thought they’d be difficult, but this sounds pretty easy! I’m going to try the recipe with ground turkey breast!
Just made these last night, they were awesome! The filling was too much for 6 bell peppers so I will definitely be freezing the rest of the filling.
Thanks for the recipe!
Made this tonight but only used 4 peppers. This was so good wished I made full batch. Yummy!!
Perfect timiing- I had cleaned and frozen some large bell peppers from the garden last fall, and wanted to use them before the new crop started coming in… I made your filling and stuffed my thawed and parboiled peppers- very good! Thanks.
(P.S. MY grandmother was Armenian and we ate these stuffed with beef, onions, rice and parsley, and stewed them in tomato sauce)
These sound great with the sausage addition. I usually freeze lasagna, various chilis, tuna casserole and shredded chicken or beef. The hard part is remembering to take something out of the freezer in time to defrost for dinner!
I plan on trying this recipe. Although I quiet enjoy the flavored rice way my Mother-in-Law always made hers.
My mom used to make stuffed peppers all the time, and she would pack them up and send them off to college with me so I would have a home cooked meal to eat. Strangely, I rarely make them myself now that I actually can cook for myself. I think I’ll have to give these a try to remedy that. :)
We never had stuffed anything while I was growing up! (Unless you count the turkey). I didn’t have my first stuffed pepper until a year or so ago. I love the sound of these, the cheese and basil really make it sound great. And serving these with mashed potatoes – I would have never thought of that!
Those look great! I love stuffed peppers – especially with fresh herbs!
My mother used to serve these for dinner all the time. I’ll have to try this…
Hoping to make these soon when my peppers come in from the garden! Love the tip about making them ahead and freezing!
Sounds like comfort food to me and served along with mashed potatoes….delicious.
How fun, this sounds absolutely delicious!!
I bet these are yummy! I think I’ll use this recipe to make a Greek version.
Love stuffed peppers! I always thought they were an Italian thing too, until I met my Lebanese friends. They just seem to use different spices and techniques. You might the peppers more if sauteed instead of boiled. My Grandma did it this way; using her meatball mixture, which you could easily sub sausage for the ground beef. This way, the filling is pretty ‘solid’ and won’t fall out. Then just saute them in a pan making sure all sides get browned…this way adds a lot of flavor to the peppers. I like to also throw some onions and garlic cloves in towards the end, adding additional flavor. Then top them with a spicy tomato sauce…Perfection! Thanks for sharing :)
yummmm! looks so cheesy and delicious! thanks for sharing!
Sorry about my earlier post. I accidentally hit submit.
I typically freeze chili, any variety of soups, tuna / chicken casserole, but my all time favorite thing to freeze is lentils. They are super healthy, packed with fiber and protein and they are also low in fat. I make a bowl of rice to go along and I dinner ready!
Thanks for sharing this recipe.
Can’t wait for my peppers to come in my garden!!!
I’ve never made my stuffed peppers with sausage before… all of the recipes I have tried call for ground beef… definitely willing to give something new a try!!
This is such a perfect recipe! The best part is your sharing how to freeze these – I’ve never thought of freezing them fully stuffed!
This looks great!!!
Those look so good! I have to get better at freezer meals too. I am in desperate need of the organization and time savings.
LOVE stuffed peppers, but i’ve never had them with this type of Italian-esque filling. Excited to try them! I will probably top mine with additional Mozz cheese. :D
I have never thought of using sausage before. Love the idea and the fact that you can freeze them!
Please please please make some chile rellenos!! I moved to Nashville TN a few years ago and havent found a mexican place that matcheswhat I left behind. I would love to see your spin on it!
I never ate stuffed peppers until I was an adult, but I really like them. I’m looking forward to testing them out with sausage. My freezer is stocked with frozen fruits for smoothies, the ice cream drum for my ice cream maker, and meat my daddy always brings me from the butcher. It takes me forever to get through the meat because I’m not a huge meat eater, but I always have something in there if I need to whip up a meal for friends.
I’m a pepper stuffer too. I haven’t made them in a while but I like to use red peppers and, like everyone else, I use chopped meat (chopped sirloin if I can find it). This looks tasty though.
These look yummy and I bet the sausage version would be GREAT!
You should try using red bell pepper, maybe the sweetness of them would be better for you:)
I eat stuffed peppers the same way as you – all the filling and none of the pepper. I actually usually only make 2 actual stuffed peppers and make the rest as large meatballs. That way it gets the pepper flavor but no waste of peppers. I am going to have to try a sausage version.
I’ve never tried stuffed peppers but these look and sound so good!
I love stuffed peppers…including the pepper. My Mom filled the peppers after cutting them in half long ways. Like little boats for my pepper hating brothers.
You might try that some time. Green pepper regatta! :)
I bet this is great!
I wish I could get my resident cooking consultant (and critic) to share my love of stuffed vegetables, especially peppers. He just might go for sausage stuffed something, though. He loves sausage. And I always have meatballs in the freezer for quick meals. (And sometimes they’re sausage and ground beef mixed!)
Stuffed Peppers are my favorite meals! I love them, but I never had one with sausage, I normally use ground beef. I freeze mine too!!! Have a great weekend!
I’m all about freezer meals as we are about to have baby #2 soon! I will add this to our list of must make recipes :)
Would these work on the grill? I have a BBQ veggie rack from pampered chef and you stick a prong though the veggie but I am wondering if everything would just oozze out
Hi Nicole, I’m not sure how you would do these on the grill, but if you try, you just need to make sure they stay right-side-up the entire time, or the filling will fall out.
I wish I was better at freezer meals! It sounds like a great way to plan ahead…which I’m terrible at. Maybe I should work on it :) The stuffed peppers look delish!