Stuffed Peppers, Two Ways

In doing a cook-off a while back with stuffed peppers, I came up with two winners, each with a different taste. One has more of a Mexican flavor and the other one is more Italian. I couldn’t decide which to keep, so I kept them both.

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Adjust the hot seasonings as you like — you could even add chopped green chilis for an extra kick.

Serves 6

6 large bell peppers
1 lb. ground (minced) beef or turkey
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 8-oz. jar mild Mexican salsa
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (cheddar or hard mozzarella are good substitutes)
Fresh cilantro/coriander leaves, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C. Cut the tops off the peppers and reserve. Remove the membrane and seeds from inside the peppers.

Put the oil in a pan and heat over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until onion is translucent. Add turkey, crumble and brown. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Spoon mixture into peppers and cap with pepper tops. Place in a baking pan filled with 1/2 inch of water and bake for 35-40 minutes or until peppers are tender.

Italian Stuffed Peppers

If you prefer, you could replace the sausage with another half-pound of ground beef or turkey.

Makes 4 servings

4 large green bell peppers
2 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 lb. ground (minced) beef or turkey
1/2 lb. Italian sausage meat
1 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried marjoram
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1 generous tsp. butter

Preheat oven to 350F/175C. Cut off the tops of the peppers but keep them to one side. Remove all membrane and seeds from inside the peppers.

Heat the oil in a pan and saute the onion and 2 cloves chopped garlic. Add the ground beef and sausage and cook through. Remove from heat and stir in herbs, salt, and pepper.

Stuff peppers with meat mixture and cover with tops. Place in ovenproof dish and bake for about 1 hour.

Just before the peppers finish baking, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 2 minutes. When peppers are done, pour the sauce over the insides of the peppers and serve.

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