Confetti Stuffed Peppers

Loaded with a lot of good-for-ya veggies, these Confetti Stuffed Peppers pack a tasty punch. Over the years, I’ve made all kinds of stuffed peppers. Sometimes I’d cut the pepper in half and mound the raw meat and rice mixture directly into the shell without precooking the ingredients. But that approach can be hit or miss when it comes to perfectly cooking the rice.

A bit of back story. I planned having a night off from cooking because we’d purchased some promising looking pre-made stuffed peppers at Costco the previous Saturday. Apparently the Food Gods had other ideas though, because on Sunday morning when I went downstairs, what do you think I found sitting atop the china closet?? Seems hubby put the package up there “temporarily” while he opened the basement door to tote groceries to the downstairs fridge, then totally forgot about them. Urrrgghh….

Believe me, we had some discussion about the feasibility of still serving them for dinner, but realizing they’d been sitting out for over 16 hours, we grudgingly came to our senses. With thoughts of agonizing stomach torture, or even a possible trip to the ER, our health meant a lot more than saving $15! (Did we really even give it a second thought?) So out in the trash they went, and onto the grocery list went the ingredients to make them from scratch.

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Let’s face it, there are as many ways to make stuffed peppers as there are to make meatloaf. But if, like us, you try to get in as many vegetables when preparing a meal, this recipe checks a lot of boxes.

Then there’s the debate about which rice to use, white or brown? There are pluses and minuses to each. The upside is, brown rice, unlike white rice, still has the side hull and bran. Other facts:

The Good—

  • Brown rice has more micronutrients: magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. It also has a lot of manganese, selenium, and copper.
  • Brown rice has a lower glycemic index than white rice.
  • The fiber content of brown rice keeps bowel function at it’s peak since it makes digestion that much easier.

The Bad—

  • Brown rice has 43 more calories per cup than white rice.
  • Brown rice has 7g more carbohydrates per cup than white rice.

The Ugly—

  • That would only pertain to those who have a rice allergy…

Alright, the rice choice is totally up to you and those who will be eating the stuffed peppers.

To make the meal more weeknight-friendly, I made the recipe on a Sunday afternoon up to the first line of Step 7, and then refrigerated them over night. It sure made for an easy dinner prep the next day. And because I had 1 1/2 cups of tomato puree leftover from another dinner, I mixed it with a small 8 ounce can of tomato sauce. Waste not, want not, right?

We did have nearly one cup of the meat mixture leftover after stuffing the peppers, so we just divvied it up between the two of us as a little snack while we were preparing other meals. Keep in mind, if you can’t buy large peppers, purchase 5 or 6 medium to small ones, otherwise you’ll have a lot of stuffing with no where to put it!

Enjoy!

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef or turkey
  • 4 large bell peppers, a mix of colors
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium zucchini or summer squash, finely diced
  • 4 plum tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, more to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked brown or white long grain rice
  • 2 cups tomato sauce, more to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups grated pepper Jack cheese

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Slice off the top of the peppers and remove the stem. Finely dice the tops.

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Place peppers in a pot that is high enough and roomy enough to fit them snugly.

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After your ground meat is browned, place onto a paper towel-lined plate to remove any excess fat.

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Wipe out the skillet and add the remaining olive oil. Add the onions and chopped peppers and cook until beginning to soften.

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Next, add the garlic and zucchini/squash and cook for another minute.

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Next toss in the diced tomatoes and season with salt and red pepper flakes. Cook until everything is heated through.

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In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked veggies, meat and rice, and stir in 1 cup of the cheese.

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Pack the mixture into the pepper shells and mound the top.

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Before you top with tomato sauce and put back in the oven, siphon the moisture out of the bottom of the pot.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cut the tops off the peppers. Remove and discard the stems, then finely chop the tops; set aside. Scoop out the seeds and as much of the membrane as you can. In a baking dish large enough to hold them upright, place the peppers in cut-side up.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meat, season with salt and pepper and cook, breaking up the lumps, until it is cooked through and just beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove as much fat from the pan, then transfer the meat to a paper towel-lined plate to get rid of the remaining fat.
  4. Wipe out the skillet and add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onions and chopped peppers and cook until beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and zucchini/squash and cook for another minute.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes and season with salt and red pepper flakes. Cook until everything is heated through.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked veggies, then stir in the meat and rice. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Stir in 1 cup of the cheese.
  7. Fill the peppers with the rice mixture. Pour a small amount of water into the bottom of the baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. (If you refrigerated overnight, cook for 45 minutes.)
  8. Uncover, siphon out the moisture from the bottom of the pot, pour tomato sauce over the peppers and cook for another 15 minutes, then top each with a sprinkle of the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake until the peppers are soft and the cheese is melted and lightly browned, another 10 minutes or so.
  9. Serve in shallow bowls and top with more tomato sauce from the bottom of the pot, if desired.

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After placing a pepper in the bowl, top with more tomato sauce.

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Sliced open, the meat and veggie mixture falls out with the oozy cheese.

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