Tuesday, September 28, 2010

In the Kitchen: Parmesan Mushroom Stuffed Peppers

This is my healthy, vegetarian spin on a classic crowd pleaser. Made with brown rice, fresh veggies and a little cheese, you've got just about all your food groups stuffed into one yummy little package, or should I say pepper. This dish is easy to make and can even be whipped up the night before and then popped into the oven to bake when you get home from work. You'll find a printable recipe card at the end of this post.

Ingredients serves 2
2 large bell peppers (any color, I use green and red)
3/4 cup cooked brown rice
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup broccoli florets, chopped (fresh or thawed frozen work)
1/4 cup low sodium vegetable broth (can also use chicken)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
2/3 cup salt free tomato sauce (just plain, not spaghetti sauce)
1/3 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra for topping

Preheat oven to 375°. Slice the tops off your peppers and clean out any seeds and membrane from inside. If desired, you can chop up the pepper top (discarding the stem) and add it to your stuffing mixture. Brush the outside of the peppers with a little olive oil and set aside.

Depending on what type of brown rice you are using, you'll want to cook this ahead of time. I use Minute brown rice, which is easy and works well, so I start cooking it when I start making the filling, as it only takes about 5 minutes.

To prepare the filling, saute the minced garlic and red onion with a little olive oil over medium high in a large skillet until tender. Add the mushrooms, broccoli and chopped pepper tops (if desired). Once the veggies are almost cooked through and soft, reduce the heat to medium, add the rice, chicken broth, salt and pepper and simmer until most of the broth cooks away and is absorbed into the mixture.

Remove from heat and stir in the tomato sauce and parmesan cheese until thoroughly mixed and melted. I recommend tasting the filling at this point before you stuff the peppers in case you want to add any additional salt or seasonings.

Spoon the filling into the peppers, stuffing them tightly. I cook mine in a glass loaf pan so if they want to tip over they don't have far to go, but any glass baking dish will do and you can always stabilize them with some foil around the bases.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40 - 45 minutes until the peppers start to get soft. I like my peppers slightly al dente, so to say, but you can cook them a bit longer if you'd like them really soft. Remove the foil and sprinkle a little shredded parmesan on the top of the peppers, return to the oven and bake or broil until melted. Serve and enjoy!

Don't like parmesan? Try cheddar. Don't like mushrooms or broccoli? This recipe is very versatile and you can substitute just about any veggies or cheese you wish. For a mexican spin, try using black beans and chopped roasted poblanos instead of the mushrooms and broccoli along with pepper jack cheese.

You can easily double this recipe to serve four or make it as is and stuff four small peppers instead of two. They also reheat well in the microwave or oven for a hearty lunch or second dinner. Enjoy!

And find more easy and delicious recipes here.