Monday, March 7, 2011

Oh, Stuff It (a pepper, that is!)

Much to my surprise, Bill announced several months ago that he likes stuffed bell peppers. And even more shocking ... he started making them. And perhaps most confounding of all, they were really good!

What wasn't surprising was that when we were sorting my "How to Cook Everything" recipe cards this weekend and I asked Bill to priortize the ones we liked, Corn-Stuffed Peppers with Spicy Tomato Sauce landed at the top of his list. So I figured this was my cue to try cooking my own.

I'd rate this recipe very high, but perhaps not as high as Bill's (and believe me, that's very hard to say). I'll see if I can get him to make his soon, and I'll post that recipe as well. Then you can compare for yourself!

As usual, I put a little bit of a twist on this recipe (funny how I always seem to come up with something that I think will take the dish up a notch!). I added mild Italian sausage because I thought the peppers needed some protein! It was certainly a good move, but I'd actually suggest adding more than 2 sausages, unless your sausages are large. The reason I'd put Bill's stuffed peppers above mine is because they're meatier. Although these are chock full of other good stuff!

Corn (and Sausage!)-Stuffed Peppers with Spicy Tomato Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 (or more) mild Italian sausages, casings removed
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup cooked white or brown rice, barley and quinoa
1 medium onion, minced
1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, diced
2 cups canned diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups canned corn, drained
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper
4 red or yellow peppers (or a combination!), caps removed and centers hallowed out

For sauce:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon soy or Worchestershire sauce
2 teaspoons sugar, or to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until no longer pink. Add wine to deglaze skillet, scraping up the browned bits.

In a large bowl, combine sausage, rice, onion, mushrooms, half of the tomatoes, corn, egg and salt and pepper to taste. Stuff peppers with this mixture and stand them up in an ovensafe skillet with 1/2 inch of water. Bake for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a pot or another deep skillet. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until garlic browns. Using a slotted spoon, removed garlic and peppers from oil; discard. Add cumin and stir. Add remaining tomatoes, crushing them with the back of a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil, turn heat to medium-low, and add the soy sauce (or Worchestershire). Simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and add sugar as necessary. Add salt and pepper to taste. Puree in a blender or food processor and keep warm.

Serve the peppers with sauce spooned over.

As a side note, I tried to speed this recipe up a bit because I was hungry, so I bumped the oven temp to 400 and cooked the peppers for 30 minutes. No bueno. They were not as tender as I would have liked. I suggest being patient and cooking them for the full 45 minutes, saving these for a weekend dinner, or covering them with foil while they cook (which should help steam them, speeding up the cooking time).

I would absolutely make these peppers again, but perhaps even more importantly, I'll make this tomato sauce often! I wish I had made twice as much sauce (it was so good that there were no leftovers ... we mopped it all up with bread!). It could have actually used a bit more heat (maybe it's not such a good move to remove the garlic and red pepper flakes before finishing it), but I imagine it would be delicious with something like chicken parmesan. I think I'll have to try that ... and soon :)


  1. Wow these look good! I've only had them made on the stove, cooked in a bunch of thick tomato sauce. Also made with turkey/beef and rice, not sausage. But this twist is sounding better than the ones I've had. The inclusion of corn in this sounds really, really good too. I have a theory that adding corn to just about anything only makes it better. It's kind of like bacon in that way.

  2. Corn does make just about everything better! It's a perfect, sweet vegetable.

    And you just gave me an idea to go on a bacon binge! I'm thinking an entire week's worth of recipes including bacon in a very, very prominent way! In fact, it's not a bad idea for an entire cookbook (although I'm sure one already exists!).