For everything there is a season, said the wisest man ever.
July is the season of garden goodness, and I am loving it!
Of course, there is no bad season for stuffed peppers.
Except maybe the season of dental surgery.
But today is an especially good pepper-eating day.
I have a pepper plant in the garden covered with promising blooms — in fact, I’m celebrating its miraculous recovery after a terrible, wilty brush with death.
And I’ve just said goodbye to my sweet great-grandmother’s body, so it’s the perfect time for a tiny tribute to her good cooking.
Grandma Sally had no recipes.
It was all “by guess and by golly,” she said.
And the more I cook, the more I dig her style.
Sometimes I have a misplaced optimism that my ideas will improve a particular recipe. And instead, I learn a valuable lesson about something I’ll never try in the kitchen again.
But more often, cooking everything “to taste” is the way to go.
Give it a try! If a culinary masterpiece is your goal, this kind of exploration will free you to discover the perfect combination of flavors.
And If you’re starving and shooting for a speed record, this simplifies your preparation.
And of course, if you’re a picky eater, this approach lets you tailor the dish to suit your own taste.
Win. Win. Win.
So forget about recipes for the moment — you know what you like!
Stuffed peppers are ridiculously flexible. They’re every bit as versatile as pizza and have almost as many possibilities as a sandwich. Put your favorite things in a pepper, and you’ll love the result.
How to Throw Them Together
Remove the stem and seeds from a bell pepper. You may also want to level the bottom like I showed you for Stuffed Pepper Quiche.
Chop the top of the pepper to use in the filling, and gather all the other ingredients you’d like to use.
Some good ideas include ground or shredded meat, chopped vegetables, cooked rice, beans, and shredded cheese.
There is only one non-negotiable ingredient that you absolutely need: sauce.
I love to use pizza or marinara sauce for Italian peppers, but Mexican flavors are just as easy (try your favorite salsa or enchilada sauce).
If your salsa (or another tomato-based sauce) is too runny, you can use a little tomato paste to thicken it.
To spice it up a little more, add some complementary seasonings — maybe oregano, curry, chili powder, or cumin.
If sauce is the most essential ingredient, this is the most magical:
I especially adore my basil plant – it takes anything Italian to a whole new level of delicious.
Stir your filling together in a bowl, covering everything in sauce.
Then stuff it tightly into the empty pepper.
Top it with cheese — or anything else you want. (For perfectly melted cheese, wait to add it later — but if you don’t want to hang around, go ahead. It’ll just be a little crustier.)
To make your preparation even easier, just stuff the pepper with leftovers. Rice pilaf, pizza toppings, barbecue meat, taco fillings, chili, pasta, casserole… just pick something thick and wet!
Bake the peppers on a lightly greased baking sheet at 350° F for about 30 minutes.
If you have leftover filling or need to feed someone who doesn’t go for peppers, you can bake more at the same time in a ramekin or custard dish.
This dish can be taken in so many different directions! Next I think I’ll try to come up with some Asian-flavor peppers — with fresh cilantro, if I can keep my plant alive!
Of course, there are plenty of great stuffed pepper recipes. I’d love to try them all.
(Unless they involve Jell-O.)
But when my hungry stomach is setting the deadline for dinner, I don’t want to bother with recipes (especially if it means running upstairs for my laptop).
I just want to run around the kitchen, throw together some of my favorite flavors, and get down to eating!
I’ll be back soon with more ideas for making the most of this fabulous season!