Not Like Your Momma Used to Make….
Have you ever seen, or smelled, a food that you really wanted to like, but every time you tasted it, it was a complete let down? That is how I felt about stuffed peppers. Growing up my mom made them from a very basic recipe with ground beef, rice, and tomato something or other. I guess my number one problem was I just didn’t like bell peppers, so I always ate the filling, but it still wasn’t that “Mmmmm” feeling. I’ve wanted to make stuffed peppers for a while, but I knew that making them “old school” just wouldn’t do it for me.
Yesterday I decided I was going to put a new spin on stuffed peppers and it was going to make a difference. I knew all of the flavors that I wanted to be present, and I wanted to skip the ground beef. Not that I have anything against it, but it is cheaper to cook without it, and sometimes you just don’t need it. So, I started by chopping up a sweet onion. I love onions, but I don’t like smelling like them, so laugh if you want, but I wear latex gloves to chop them up and turn the produce bag inside out to keep my cutting board from making everything it touches, even after it’s washed, from tasting like onions. (My husband detests onions so the presence of onions in the kitchen has to be undetectable. 😉 ) Since I hate chopping onions I chopped up the whole onion and saved the rest for a future recipe.
After tossing the onions into a pan with a scant amount of olive oil, probably ¼ teaspoon, I rinsed, and drained, a can of unseasoned black beans, grabbed some frozen corn, tomato paste, cheese, and some leftover rice that I had made earlier that morning. Let me touch briefly on the rice. If I am going to make a batch of rice I generally don’t season, or salt, it because it can be used for stir-fries, add-ins, and breakfast rice. But when I am making rice for certain recipes I like to add a little beef bouillon to the water while it is boiling. You can take it or leave it, but for 2 cups of dry rice (yielding 6 cups cooked) I used two beef bouillon cubes. It isn’t an overwhelming flavor, but it adds a little something. For my veggie friends, you can use vegetable stock in place of the bouillon if you would like. 🙂
When the onions started getting a tiny char, and began to turn translucent, I tossed the rest of the ingredients in, except for the cheese. While all of the yummy stuff was heating through creating a heavenly combination I cut a large green pepper in half and cored it. You can use any color you like, I actually prefer red, but green is a little firmer, and it was cheaper. Remember, I’m all about saving money when it comes to cooking. Once all of the ingredients were heated through with a few seasonings I piled them into the pepper shells and tossed them into a preheated oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes I topped them with cheese cooked them for another 10 minutes. Around the last 1-2 minutes I popped on the broiler to give them a nice golden, and a little bit of charred, look. The smell was amazing, but I was still concerned that the flavors might not have combined the way I had hoped. But one bite and I felt that “Aw-ma-gawww” feeling. That was it. I had found the flavors I had been looking for.
NOTE: If you don’t like bell peppers at least give the filling a try on a tostado shell, or maybe on a bed of greens. It is to good to pass up!
Secondary NOTE: If you aren’t going to eat the peppers, or filling right away add 1 extra Tablespoon of tomato paste + 1 extra Tablespoon of water. 🙂
Southwest Stuffed Peppers
By Angie Gouchenour
1 Large Green, Red, or Orange Bell Pepper
¼ cup of chopped sweet onion (1/4 teaspoon of olive oil to sautee)
½ cup of cooked white rice (You could use brown if you would like)
½ cup of rinsed and drained canned black beans
½ cup of frozen yellow sweet corn
3 Tablespoons of tomato paste + 2 Tablespoons of water OR 1/2 cup tomato sauce with 1/2 teaspoon Truvia zero calorie sweetener
¼ teaspoon of black pepper
½ teaspoon of garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon of cumin
1 ounce of extra sharp cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Sautee chopped onion with olive oil in a small skillet until slightly translucent
Add rice, black beans, corn, tomato paste, water, and seasonings to onion and stir frequently until heated through
Cut your bell pepper in half, length wise, an remove core and seeds
After cleaning the bell pepper set it in a baking dish
Divide filling equally between the two halves
Cover dish with foil and place in preheated oven for 20 minutes
Sprinkle each stuffed pepper with half an ounce of cheese and continue cooking for 10 minutes
Turn the broiler on during the last few minutes for a slight char, and nice golden color
NOTE: You may think it looks a tiny bit dry when you remove it from the oven, but it is super moist on the inside
(Photo by Angie Gouchenour)
225 calories per serving