Stuffed Bell Peppers

stuffed peppersWhy is it that a weekend away throws such a wrench into normal life?  We came back from cyclocross craziness last weekend and suffered through a week of chaos–no groceries, not much in the way of clean clothes, the smell of smokey campfires in my hair for three days and everything topsy turvy at home.  Mini vacation . . . great!  Return from mini vacation . . . ugh!

This was the only dish I managed to make last week (I’m not counting the dressing I mixed up for a couple salads), and it only happened because I opened the refrigerator door on Monday and found: 3 bell peppers, some italian sausage, mushrooms, a small amount of leftover couscous, and a small amount of leftover wild rice.  I grew up in a single parent, working mom household, so I’m nothing if not creative with leftovers.  I’d never made stuffed peppers before, but I think these turned out just delightful.

The stuffing makes enough for at least 6 peppers, depending on how big your peppers are–but you can freeze any extra and use it later, or do what we did and toss it into a frittata (i.e. cook it in a skillet with eggs and cheese) for dinner the next night.  And eat it by itself for lunch.  That’s how we roll here in Lazy-ville.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

  • 1 pound bulk italian sausage (I used a *hot* variety)
  • 2 cups couscous, rice, or a mix of these, cooked
  • 1/2 cup chopped white or yellow onion
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes (I used some with green chilies)
  • 6 large bell peppers, preferably yellow, red or orange
  • mozzarello or parmesan cheese (mozzarella=melty, parmesan=crunchy top)

Cook sausage in a skillet over medium high heat until no pink remains; drain.  Slice the top off the peppers and remove the seeds and fibers.  Dice up the part you sliced off the top of the pepper, excluding the stem.  Saute the diced pepper tops with onions and mushrooms in the same skillet you used for the sausage.  Cook until onions are translucent and mushrooms are tender, then add tomatoes and heat through.  Remove from heat and mix in the coucous/rice.  Place the cored pepper shells in a baking dish.  If any peppers are unstable, you can set them in small oven proof custard cups in the baking dish to keep them upright–or alternatively, use a muffin tin instead of a baking dish.  Use a spoon to fill each pepper shell full of the stuffing mix, mounding slightly at the top.  Top with cheese if desired.  Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes, until pepper is softened and stuffing is heating through.  The peppers will be crisp/tender when cooked this way.  For a softer pepper, wrap in foil prior to stuffing and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, while you prepare the stuffing, then fill and bake as directed.

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