Sunday, January 8, 2012

Peppers (and a zucchini) stuffed to the brim

I'd had a giant zucchini from my CSA sitting in the fridge for over the week when I saw a recipe in Family Circle magazine for Stuffed Zucchini. The recipe looked decent, but I thought I could do better. And then I went to Costco and bought a six-pack of peppers, and I kinda went nuts.

It's possible I made too much food for just the two of us. It was certainly enough to discourage me from making this fabulous salad I was envisioning, but hey, that just leaves my creativity intact for another day!

Stuffing for Bell Peppers or Zucchini
Makes enough for 6 bell peppers or 4 medium zucchini
6 slices bacon, chopped
4 ounces spinach
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces crimini mushrooms, halved then sliced
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1-2 cups cooked rice
14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Heat about 1 inch of water in a large pot until boiling. Add spinach, stir until it's just barely cooked (less than a minute), then dump into a collander and immediately stop the cooking process by rinsing with cold water. Squeeze spinach dry, then chop and set aside.

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet until it starts to get crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Pour fat from pan, but leave a nice coating on the bottom.

Add onions and celery to the skillet, and cook until it starts to brown, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and continue stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and stir until mushrooms begin to lose their liquid, about 5 minutes. Add ground turkey and cook until no longer pink. Stir in rice, tomatoes and reserved bacon, then add salt, pepper and chile flakes to taste.

To assemble:
Although a lot of stuffed pepper recipes call for you to cut the tops off and stuff the peppers with raw meat, I prefer my peppers (and zucchini) still on the crunchy side, so I like to cook the filling first, and cut the peppers in half so they take even less time to cook. Not to mention that it's also a heckuva lot easier to fill!

Using this method, I filled 10 pepper halves and 2 zucchini halves (seeds scraped out and saved for a later use) until they were overflowing, then sprinkled them with cheese. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cook until the cheese begins to brown and the zucchini and peppers are soft to the touch, about 30 minutes

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