Stuffed Bell Peppers: A Classic Comfort Dish
There’s a heartwarming familiarity that comes with biting into a perfectly cooked stuffed bell pepper. This dish, celebrated in various cultures around the world, is the epitome of comfort food — a harmonious blend of flavors encased in a tender bell pepper shell. From the robust European versions filled with meats and grains to the spicy Latin American variations with beans and corn, the concept remains consistent: a wholesome, filling core enveloped by a juicy, edible container.
The beauty of the stuffed bell pepper recipe lies in its versatility. At its core, it is a canvas waiting to be painted with the ingredients and spices of your choosing. Whether you’re a meat-lover, a vegetarian, or someone who simply enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, this dish offers an opportunity to tailor to personal preferences. And while the basic elements remain the same — a bell pepper, a flavorful filling, and an oven’s embrace — the outcomes can be as varied as the cooks behind them. It’s this adaptability, combined with the dish’s inherently nostalgic feel, that has solidified its place in the hearts and kitchens of many.
As we delve into this classic stuffed bell pepper recipe, you’ll find that it leans into traditional favorites: a hearty meat and rice filling, seasoned to perfection, topped with a generous sprinkle of cheese that melts to a golden hue. But remember, this is just a starting point. Feel free to tweak, twist, and turn this recipe into your own masterpiece, reflecting your tastes and culinary aspirations. After all, cooking is as much about personal expression as it is about nourishment. Let’s embark on this delicious journey together!
Stuffed Bell Peppers
4 large bell peppers (any color)
1 lb (450g) ground beef or turkey
1 cup cooked rice (white or brown)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes or 1 cup of tomato sauce
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, or Monterey Jack)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika (optional)
1/2 tsp oregano or Italian seasoning (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
Fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish (optional)
- Prep the Peppers:
- Wash the bell peppers, cut off the tops, and remove the seeds and membranes.
- If your peppers don’t stand up straight, you can slice a tiny portion off the bottom to level them out.
- Cook the Filling:
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
- Add the ground beef or turkey to the skillet. Cook until browned and cooked through, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks.
- Stir in the cooked rice, diced tomatoes or tomato sauce, salt, pepper, paprika, and oregano. Mix everything well and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Stuff the Peppers:
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Spoon the filling into each bell pepper cavity, pressing down slightly to pack the filling.
- Place the stuffed peppers upright in a baking dish. If there’s any extra filling, you can just spread it around the peppers in the dish.
- Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes.
- After 25-30 minutes, remove the foil, sprinkle the shredded cheese on top of each pepper, and return to the oven. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and slightly golden.
- Remove the stuffed peppers from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro, if desired.
- Serve warm.