One of the most important factors for me when making a dish is whether or not it’s healthy and good for my family. Sure, we all need to indulge every now and then by having a cheat meal, but I tend to veer more on the side of healthy dinners, rather than unhealthy dinners. And, most of the time, what I make for dinner really does depend on the ingredients I have on hand. So, the quest was to come up with a delicious, but healthy, dinner. That’s when I decided to make stuffed bell peppers! Here’s what you’ll need to recreate these beauties:
- 8 green bell peppers
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
- 2 cups white rice
- 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
- Cilantro, chopped
- Fresh garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 white onion, chopped
- Mini bell peppers, cut lengthwise
- Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup reduced fat Cheddar Cheese, shredded
- 1 cup reduced fat Jack Cheese, shredded
- Your favorite pasta sauce (I used Classico’s Fire Roasted Tomato & Garlic, 16 ounces)
- Panko bread crumbs
- Black pepper
- Sea salt
- Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp Basil
- 1 tsp Oregano
OK, now let’s get started! First, you want to wash your bell peppers, dry them off, cut off their tops and remove the seeds. You can choose to use the tops but I decided not to. Then, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and parboil your bell peppers in there for 5 minutes. This is an important step, as it really softens the bell peppers in a way that the oven won’t. If you skip this step, your bell peppers will turn out crunchy, so, be forewarned.
While the bell peppers are boiling, cook your rice. You can use a rice cooker or cook it on the stove, like I like did, since it’s a huge time saver. I used 3 cups of water for 2 cups of rice, salted the water, and added a tablespoon of olive oil. It took about 15 minutes for my rice to get fully cooked.
After the bell peppers have boiled, pour the pot of bell peppers inside a colander to drain. Remove with tongs (as the bell peppers will still be extremely hot), and pat dry with a paper towel. Set aside and let them cool slightly, while we move on to preparing the stuffing.
In a large nonstick pan, cook the ground beef. Drain the fat in a bowl to discard later. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and saute the mini bell peppers until soft, along with the onions, until translucent. Add the diced tomatoes. Mix in the rice. Add salt and pepper, Italian seasoning, basil and oregano along with the fresh garlic. Add garlic powder and a tablespoon at a time of Worcestershire sauce, until it starts giving the stuffing that strong flavor that Worcestershire sauce is known for. Add the cilantro.
I used a 13 x 9 glass Pyrex, sprayed the bottom with Pam, then, covered the entire bottom of the Pyrex with pasta sauce. Grab each bell pepper, sprinkle the inside with sea salt, as well as a mixture of both the cheeses. Spoon a little bit of the stuffing inside the bell pepper, layer with some pasta sauce on top, add more of the stuffing, and finish with more pasta sauce.
Place the bell peppers inside a 350 degree oven. After 25 minutes of being in the oven, take them out, sprinkle them with more of the two types of cheeses (but, this time on top), along with the Panko bread crumbs, and put them back in the oven for 10 more minutes. Then, broil for 3-4 minutes or until the bread crumbs are brown and toasted.
Who doesn’t love some melting, cheesy goodness? Best of all, if you have leftover stuffing that you couldn’t use for the bell peppers, you can always eat the stuffing the next day just like that. It really does taste that good. According to my husband, these stuffed bell peppers were amazing! I am sure they will be a hit in your home, too.