Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers Italiano

This is the traditional Italian version of Stuffed Peppers, using mince rather than the rice-based vegetarian version many people may be familiar with.  I love both the vege version and the meat one, I find myself making the meat one more frequently though.  If you are growing your own capsicums (peppers) this is a fabulous way to showcase them in a main meal.  Using different coloured ones - red, green, golden, purple, black - makes for a gorgeous and colourful platter.

1kg minced premium beef
1 large pepper (capsicum) per person – if making for others I like to use as many different coloured peppers as possible, perhaps counter-intuitively the green peppers give the best roasted flavour
2 onions, finely diced
2 rashers of bacon
2 cans of diced tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup good red wine
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 cup of cooked rice, preferable Arborio
1 cup of parmesan cheese, finely grated
Salt
Pepper
Lots of fresh herbs – rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano and marjoram all work wonderfully
1 slice of mozzarella cheese per pepper

Pre-heat oven to 175°C.Stuffed Peppers

Wash the peppers well, cut off the tops about 2cm down, keeping the 'lid' aside.
Clean out all the seeds and wash the inside of the peppers.
In a large saucepan, cook the bacon and onion in a little olive oil, adding the garlic and mince once the onion is translucent.
Add the tomatoes, wine and the paste and cook until the sauce is thick. 

Stir the sauce through the prepared rice and parmesan.  Check for seasoning, then add enough sauce into each pepper to generously fill it, without going over the rim of the pepper.
Place a generous slice of mozzarella cheese on each pepper and replace the corresponding lid (pepper top). 

Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake in a moderately hot oven for about 30-40 minutes or until peppers are tender without collapsing and the mozzarella is bubbling over the edge of each pepper.  Only the pepper shell needs to cook, so do not leave them in the oven for too long - check them to ensure they are not splitting.

Serve with crusty bread, salad and robust red wine!

Vegetarian version:  Use a ragout of vegetables (onion, celery, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant and fresh beans) in place of the mince with double the quantity or rice.  Alternatively, use roasted pumkin with lots of fresh herbs and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper.