Budget cooking is largely dependent on being inventive. At home, my mom tends to take whatever is sitting in our cabinets, throw it into a pot, and out comes a masterpiece. Most of us aren’t yet quite that inventive, and I know in my case, I am not skilled enough to turn out more than a pile of oddly-flavored mush if I spontaneously throw together whatever I have around.
Nonetheless, it seems to be a good skill to have, so this week’s recipe is one that allows for some slight flexibility based on availability and personal taste. The author, like me, had a mother who would add whatever happened to be in the kitchen, which leads me to believe that this is a good recipe for new chefs to use if they want to experiment a little bit with flavors.
And, for those of us who aren’t confident enough to try to branch out, it will also be delicious in this classic version. Stuffed peppers make a healthy dish that, when served, give a very gourmet impression without requiring too much real skill. However, it is an excellent introduction to more complex dishes than much of what we’ve done so far. So whether you let your adventurous side take over or stick with the classic version, these are sure to please!
What You Need:
- 3/4 to 1 cup raw white rice
- 4 to 6 bell peppers (red, yellow, or green—this is totally based on your taste), use 4 large, or 6 medium sized
- 1 to 1 1/4 lb of ground beef (ground chuck, 16% fat)
- 6 large fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil)
- 1/2 teaspoon dry summer savory
- 1/2 teaspoon ground marjoram (or 2 teaspoons of fresh chopped)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Paprika (you can substitute herbs with other herbs such as an Italian herb mix, or anything else that you think sounds fun!)
How to Make It:
- Start cooking the rice following the package instructions (usually 1 cup of raw white rice plus 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes.)
- Cut the tops off of the bell peppers. Remove and discard the stem and seeds.
- Place bell peppers cut side up on a steaming rack over an inch of water in a large covered pot. Bring to boil, let steam for 10 minutes.
- Heat oven to 350°F.
- In a large bowl mix together the ground beef, basil, summer savory, marjoram, salt, black pepper, and rice.
- Remove bell peppers from steamer pan. Place cut side up in an oven-proof casserole dish.
- Gently stuff the peppers with the ground beef rice mixture. Drizzle olive oil over the stuffed peppers, along the outside of the peppers, and into the pan. Rub the oil over the outside of the peppers; it will help with browning. Sprinkle the tops generously with paprika.
- Place on middle rack and cook for 25-30 minutes, until meat is cooked through.
- Enjoy with ketchup or whatever else you enjoy!
Credit for this recipe goes to SimplyRecipes.com’s “Mom’s Stuffed Bell Peppers” by Elise.