Last week, I roasted a huge batch of tomatoes--normal ones for Pasta alla Puttanesca and cherry tomatoes to try out The Second Lunch's Roasted Tomato and Brown Rice Stuffed Peppers. I often find time-consuming recipes that I'd love to try, but having a two year old under my feet prevents me from spending hours in the kitchen, so I've come up with some time-saving techniques to have my cake and eat it too. (This begs the question...do mothers get to eat their cake too??? I'm not so sure about that one yet!) One of those techniques is setting aside some time (perhaps naptime?) to prep ingredients for meals later in the week.
This week, my meal list had two recipes that called for roasted tomatoes. (What can I say? I'm wishing summer into existence!) So, I roasted them all at once, let them cool, and then put them in tupperware in the fridge until I was ready to use them. Looking back, I should have used that time to pre-cook the rice as well...
All of this was in preparation to make these beautiful stuffed peppers:
I grew up eating stuffed bell peppers, which was one of my favorite dishes my mom made, but I was looking for something a little lighter than what my mom made--basically meatloaf with rice in the pepper--and came across this little gem. It uses brown rice, which I've decided to try to put in my diet whenever possible, and packs quite a flavorful punch! I didn't serve this with the yogurt as suggested, but my husband and I both agreed that it would add a nice richness to the dish. The original recipe called for ground turkey, but our family just isn't into ground poultry, so I went the ground beef route. It could also be made into a vegetarian dish very easily. Either way, it's worth a try!
Roasted Tomato and Brown Rice Stuffed Peppers
adapted ever-so-slightly from The Second Lunch
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 lb. cooked ground beef (seasoned well with cumin, salt, pepper, chile powder)
2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
a few tablespoons of freshly torn basil
salt and pepper
4 red bell peppers
A good glug of balsamic vinegar
1 tsp each of dried thyme and oregano
Small handful of fresh parsley
plain yogurt (optional)
1. While brown rice is cooking, pop a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes in a pan with some olive oil, garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and freshly torn basil. Cook at about 300 degrees F, until the rice is done, about 40 minutes. (This can be done ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.)
2. If cooking all at once, right after popping the tomatoes in the oven, start the ground turkey, first sauteeing an onion in a little bit of olive oil for about 10 minutes until soft, and then adding the ground beef, and cooking until well browned. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder to taste.
3. When the rice, tomatoes, and ground beef are done, stir together in a bowl, and add a good glug of balsamic vinegar, and the thyme and oregano.
Assembling the peppers:
4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a deep baking tray or roasting tray with foil, and grease lightly.
5. Cut the peppers lengthwise, leaving the stem in place, but scooping out any seeds and excess white bits. For smaller peppers, feel free to lop off the top instead of cutting lengthwise. Place the peppers in the baking tray, season with a little salt, and pour on a little bit of olive oil.6. Stuff the peppers with the mixture, place in the pan, and cover with foil, cook for 45 minutes at 400 F, uncover and cook for about 10 more minutes, or until top has lightly browned.