Sausage stuffed Bell Peppers.
Now that I teach classes on my [under construction] urban farm, I have a built-in excuse to play with seasonal produce. I recently had a group of women choose the 'seasonal class' which roughly translates to: what is piled high at nearby farmer's markets? And quintessentially: what amount of fun can we have with these ingredients? My goal is to take unusual ingredients---such as zucchini flowers, ramps or garlic scapes---and insert them into my guests' repertoire. Another goal is to take usual ingredients---bell peppers, plain zucchini, onions---and elevate them to a whole new level.
In this case we took 'usual' bell peppers and used them in a variety of [hopefully new] ways. We chit-chatted about the various ways to cut them, their health benefits and how cool it is that most peppers start (and can be picked) as green peppers, before turning red, yellow, orange and so on.
My favorite 'new twist' on using peppers is to stuff them:
Sausage Stuffed Bell Peppers 1/2 cup cooked white rice OR bread crumbs 2 T olive oil, divided 2 T shallots, finely minced 1/8 cup carrots, finely minced 1/8 cup celery, finely minced 6 bell peppers (any color) stems and seeds removed, cut in half lengthwise 1/2 pound ground sausage (we used hot Italian pork sausage from Whole Foods) 2-3 slices pancetta or smokey bacon, finely chopped 1 1/4 cups prepared marinara sauce (homemade basic tomato sauce would be perfect!) 1/4 cup red wine 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1/3 cup heavy cream 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided Optional: 1/4 cup fresh basil, oregano or Italian parsley chopped Kosher Salt & Coarse Pepper To Taste
Preheat oven to 375; heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook and stir shallots, carrots and celery until tender. Add ground sausage and pancetta, and cook until browned and crumbled; drain off any excess liquid, and return to heat. Add marinara sauce, wine, and red pepper flakes, and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in cream, half of the Parmesan cheese, and rice/bread crumbs. Simmer 5 minutes more, or until most liquid has absorbed. Stir in fresh herbs if using, season with S&P.
Place peppers in a shallow baking dish, then fill with mixture. Drizzle with olive oil and top with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 30 min. Serve hot.
**although we didn't have time this class---and truthfully I am saving this for a canning class---it would have been ingredient-appropriate to make red pepper jelly. We adore having jars of this jelly on our shelves, and I often pull it down as an easy-app for guests. All you need is a jar of red pepper jelly, goat cheese and yummy crackers.
***of course, with these stuffed peppers and red pepper jelly my brain is flying: wouldn't it be great to have an all-pepper inspired meal?