|Sweet bell peppers stuffed with a mixture of ground beef, Italian sausage, rice & a Creole tomato sauce, topped with cheddar cheese or slices of Velveeta.|
Creole Stuffed Bell PeppersI absolutely adore stuffed bell peppers. The Cajun? Not so much.
Remember his aversion to veggies? Well, the poor bell pepper falls right into that category of any other whole veggie that is stuffed - even though most often the very veggie he is rejecting whole, is mixed in the stuffing anyway! So, as with any stuffed vegetable, he will just eat the stuffing from a stuffed bell pepper, and throw away the pepper. Silly man. I mean, he eats green bell pepper a lot. How many recipes do y'all see here that contain The Trinity - onion, celery, and ... hello ... green bell pepper? Lots. Sigh.
Needless to say I don't make these nearly as often as I'd like to, simply because when I do, I actually have to make a whole separate dish for The Cajun - sort of a deconstructed version. I'll put that recipe up one day also, just in case any of y'all have that same veggie issue as my husband. The thing is, all veggie hatred aside, I don't think a lot of people make stuffed peppers much anymore. Sad, because as far as I'm concerned, they really are good and not at all hard to make.
You'll notice that I like to cut my peppers in half lengthwise, cutting from the stem to stern, rather than cutting off the top of a whole pepper and stuffing it that way, so that it is standing up. It's just easier for me to cook them this way, and it stretches out the peppers. Certainly though, if you prefer them made with the tops cut off, do them that way. Just cut off the upper part, just under the stem and then remove the spines and seeds.
I also like to use a blend of ground beef with just a taste of Italian sausage, seasoned with a tiny bit of onion. Sometimes I'll even toss some bacon in. To that I add creole tomato sauce - which is basically tomato sauce cooked down with onion, celery and green bell pepper. Mix in some rice, most often leftover rice, some seasonings, and to punch it up a tad, I top them off with the rest of the tomato sauce mixed with some Rotel tomatoes. Add a light sprinkling of bread crumbs - I like the Italian seasoned kind - and then at the end, a light sprinkle of cheese on top and back to the oven just long enough to melt. Thin slices of Velveeta cheese are yummy, or else finely grate some cheddar cheese on top, as I have in the picture above.
By the way, these freeze well, so those extra baked peppers above, went into the freezer for a quick flash freeze, after which they were bagged up and will become a quick lunch or dinner for those occasions that I am dining alone in the near future. Defrost and then heat up in the microwave and you've got one speedy meal! You can also prepare these in advance unbaked and freeze them. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, or in the microwave on defrost first, before baking.
Recipe: Creole Stuffed Bell Peppers©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 40 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings
For the Sauce:
For the Peppers:
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1/4 cup each of chopped onion, celery and bell pepper
- 2 (8 ounce) cans of regular tomato sauce
- 4 large sweet bell peppers, green, red or yellow
- 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons finely minced onion
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 1 or 2 links of Italian sausage
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup of cooked rice
- 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning (like Creole or Slap Ya Mama), or to taste
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1 can of Rotel tomatoes
- 1-2 tablespoons of fresh, dry or panko bread crumbs
- Freshly shredded cheddar cheese or thin slices of Velveeta
Prepare sauce by melting butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and bell pepper and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Slice the peppers lengthwise, stem to bottom, and scrape out seeds and ribs. Bring a large pot of water to boil and drop the pepper halves in, allowing to parboil for only 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a separate skillet, saute the onion in olive oil until tender. Remove the sausage from the casing and add it and the ground beef to the skillet; cooking until browned, and breaking up into small pieces. Drain well. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add 1/2 cup of the prepared tomato sauce, reserve the remaining sauce. Cook and stir 5 minutes or until sauce is heated through. Stir in rice, salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Pour 1/2 cup of water into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and place peppers in the dish. Scoop the beef and rice mixture evenly into each pepper half, topping each off until you use all of the filling.
Mix the Rotel tomatoes with the remaining tomato sauce, and spoon evenly over the tops of each pepper and sprinkle each with bread crumbs. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until peppers are tender and filling is heated through. Remove, add cheese to top, and return to oven until cheese melts.
Cook's Notes: May also substitute approximately 2 cups of homemade creole tomato sauce, divided. Peppers may be assembled for freezing or leftovers may be frozen. Peppers may also be cut standing. Simply cut off right under the top stem and remove the ribs and seeds, standing peppers up to stuff and cook.
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©Deep South Dish
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