I like dishes like this. Not crazy about using the word “easy” every time – especially for someone who loves being in the kitchen, because I think cooking in general should be “easy”. So let’s call this a fun dish to make. We had rice for dinner the previous night and I had about a cup of cooked rice left over. Not enough to be another main, yet enough to be part of another main dish. Driving to the store, I thought I’d pick up some ingredients for a stir fry when I spotted these beautiful red and orange peppers. As I headed over to the section, it dawned on me I couldn’t possibly relegate them to be part of a dish, they had to be the star. And so we had stuffed peppers for dinner.

What did I have in my fridge that I could add to the rice to make the stuffed peppers? Well, pancetta, arugula, grilled veggies (from the weekend) – done! I like making stuffed peppers because I can also clean out my veggies/leftovers from the fridge – example noted. This is a vegetarian dish (for my vegetarian friend) and it took all the strength I had not to add pancetta to the dish. Just sauté some onions and add all the remaining ingredients to the pan and you have a flavorful base for the stuffed pepper. Key to anything that is going to be part of something – and you’ve heard me pontificate this in my classes, make it tasty. Be it a marinade or a stuffing, if it is tasty, anything you put it on/in, will be tasty. If not, then you are just wasting your time and ingredients. So – taste, season and taste again!

I did pick peppers that had 4 equal sides – I know, it sounds odd, but some peppers only have 3 sides or 4’ish wobbly sides – technical  term here. This makes it difficult to cut in half and have it stand up on its own. So make sure you pick 4 sided peppers, and big enough to hold a generous portion of the filling. Although I piled mine high, the filling did sink as it baked. We don’t generally eat just vegetarian for a meal – okay, we never just have vegetables for a meal, but I served it on a bed of arugula simply dressed with olive oil, salt and pepper. I didn’t walk away from the dinner table stuffed (no pun intended), but rather that I’d satisfied a need to have a wonderful meal – filling and very tasty. This recipe makes 4 portions. As always – enjoy!

2 large red, yellow or orange peppers (don’t be a snob –you can also use green), 4 sided
1 cup cold cooked rice
1 cup diced grilled veggies – or sauté onions with any combination of – carrots, celery, zucchini, butternut squash, mushrooms etc.
2 cups plus 1 cup arugula (or whatever amount you want to add) or spinach
2 tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
½ cup topping – bread crumbs mixed with grated Romano or parmigiana, parsley, thyme, chives
Olive oil

For the stuffing, sauté onions in some olive oil in a pan over medium heat – softened not caramelized
Add the veggies – stir fry to mix and blend the flavors
Add the rice, breaking up any pieces that are in large clumps – stir
Add the soy, sesame, seasoned rice vinegar – taste, season and taste again – remove from the fire
Add the arugula and stir to wilt – taste, season and taste again – it tastes good right?!!!!
Let the mixture cool to room temperature
Preheat the oven to 375f
Slice the peppers in half – hopefully you have found 4 sided peppers (am I obsessing?!)
Clean the inside of seeds and the whitish membrane/fleshy portions but leave the stem on if possible – really just a presentation thing
Rub the inside of the cut halves with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
Generously fill with the stuffing, sprinkle with the topping and pour a few drops of olive oil on top
Bake for 30 – 45 minutes – yes this is a big gap in time but peppers have various thicknesses so set your timer for 30 minutes, check it and leave it in longer if it needs it. If the topping is browning too quickly – and it shouldn’t be, loosely cover with foil
When you check the pepper to see if it’s ready, it should be tender but firm i.e. not falling apart
Serve this on a bed of arugula or spinach lightly dressed with olive oil, salt and pepper
As always – enjoy!

stuffed peppers4

stuffed peppers1
stuffed peppers6