Stuffed Peppers are truly an under-rated food… they can be made so many ways … and really good just about any way you make them. Not only do recipes vary by the stuffing itself.. they also can vary by the variety of pepper used.
My Mother always made stuffed peppers with a beef mixture and it was a raw mixture stuffed into green peppers and cooked in a tomato based sauce… she did vary it on occasion by making it using red peppers, which I preferred.
I came up with this recipe simply by using ingredients and spices we like and I wanted to use Italian sausage. I also cooked the stuffing before stuffing it into the peppers. I did search for a recipe that sounded like what I wanted the final dish to be and couldn’t find one… so I decided to try putting together one myself… we liked the result very much.
Most recipes cut and clean the peppers then par boil them for a few minutes. I am assuming the reason for this is so the peppers cook a bit before they’re stuffed and then cooked with the stuffing. I found this step totally unnecessary… mine bake for over an hour and the peppers softened to a nice texture and still hold together… I see no reason to add the par boiling step in.
I cooked my stuffing before stuffing it in the peppers… my reason for this is that I wanted to be sure to render the Italian sausage grease before putting it in the pepper… depending on how lean the sausage is, you could end up with a fairly greasy dish if you stuff the meat in raw.
I cook the rice before adding it to the meat mixture… this way the rice doesn’t absorb the grease and liquids quite so much… and therefore doesn’t expand a lot… it’s easier to stuff the peppers and know exactly what it will look like after baking… makes for a nicer presentation.
I used Italian seasoned bread crumbs … you can use plain bread crumbs, but you will need to adjust the seasoning… I would recommend you add an additional tablespoon and a half of Italian seasoning when using plain bread crumbs.
I used plain canned diced tomatoes.. you could substitute fresh chopped tomatoes or diced tomatoes in a can with basil, garlic and onion for more flavor. Do not drain the canned tomatoes… it will provide moisture for the stuffing.
I used two pounds of bulk (not in casings)Italian sausage… one pound sweet (mild) sausage and one pound hot sausage… you can use 2 pounds of either instead of one of each if you prefer.
To easily chop the onions and garlic, I used my mini chopper and chopped them together.
I used a variety of peppers…green, red and yellow… you can use any combination you prefer… visually the variety looks the best… green will have a more pronounced pepper flavor … the red and yellow (or you could use orange also) are milder and sweeter.
This stuffing mixture can be used to stuff other vegetables as well, eggplant or zucchini would be good choices also.
I figure two peppers per person, this stuffing recipe will stuff about 8 fairly large peppers. If you need less… you can make up the stuffing mixture and freeze what you don’t need and have it ready for the next time… a great time saver… or you can easily cut the recipe in half. I would NOT recommend you freeze the peppers... just the stuffing.
I served this with spaghetti and tomato sauce.
I hope you try this terrific recipe.
Recipe: Italian Sausage Stuffed Peppers
All you need:
8 medium to large peppers (green, red and/or yellow)
1 pound bulk sweet (mild) Italian sausage
1 pound bulk hot Italian sausage
1 medium onion, finally chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 cups uncooked rice
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 cup dry Italian seasoned bread crumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
All you need to do:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut the tops off the peppers and remove the seeds and membranes from the inside of the peppers. Rinse them in cold water and place them upside down on paper towels. Set aside.
In a large skillet, break up the bulk sausage into small pieces and cook over medium high heat until brown in color. Drain off all but about 2 teaspoons of sausage grease (my sausage was pretty lean… that was all the grease I ended up with).
Lower the heat to medium and add the chopped onions and garlic, stir to mix well into the sausage and cook for about 3 minutes until onions are soft.
Meanwhile, cook the rice according to package directions.
When onions are soft, add the cooked rice, canned tomatoes, Italian seasoning, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
When mixture is cool, add ½ cup of the shredded mozzarella cheese, mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Stuff the peppers with the mixture by filling the peppers completely and mounding it a bit at the top (the stuffing will expand very little if at all).
Place the peppers in a baking dish so they sit up. Cover with foil.
Bake for 1 hour …. then remove from the oven…. remove the foil and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese over each pepper.
Return to the oven for about 15 minutes or until cheese has melted.
Serve with tomato sauce and pasta.
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