I will admit this recipe is time consuming with all the prep work just to get it in the oven but it is well worth the time to make. I will also admit, I do not make recipes from Rachel Ray very often but I really like watching her shows to get ideas
for meals and the tips she shares. She made a stuffed pepper on one of her many shows that I liked the concept just not all of the filling so I adapted some of it to make it the way I wanted. I’ve made these several times and each time they are just better and better.
A few good things about them, beside the spicy zip the sausage and chili pepper gives it; the filling really does make more than enough to fill 6-8 pepper halves and the filling freezes very well for later use. It’s also wonderful to eat right out of the pan too. The red chili pepper in the recipe is totally optional. I usually can’t find them unless they are in season. They do sell the red chili pepper in a tube where the fresh herbs are sold and that works great. I omit it if my sausage is on very spicy side though. If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, no worries – use 2 cans of diced tomatoes, drained. Fresh is better for this one, I think. This would be great recipe to make when peppers are abundant in the summer but it’s great anytime of the year. So, grab those peppers and fill ’em with this great stuffing.
4 large bell peppers (any color and I actually used 6-8 medium-large pepper halves)
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
6 Roma tomatoes or small vine-ripened tomatoes – leave whole
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 fresh red chile pepper, opitional
1 red or mild yellow onion (do not cut)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme (dried works too, about 1-2 tsp)
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup orzo
1 cup long-grain white rice (not Minute rice)
2 cups chicken stock
1 lb ground spicy sausage (totally can use ground beef, or non spicy sausage)
1 1/2 to 2 cups shaved or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
|Please pardon the lighting, it was getting dark out and my
lighting in the kitchen isn’t best at the moment
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Brown sausage in a skillet, crumbling into small-medium chunks. Be sure to cook thoroughly (no pink!) Drain and set aside.
Halve the bell peppers lengthwise and remove the seeds. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Cut an X in the hull of each pepper. Place the peppers cut-side down in a large casserole dish and roast for 20 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, grate the tomatoes on the large holes of a box grater, discarding the skins. (You should have about 2 cups.) Grate the garlic, chile pepper and onion into the bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add a drizzle of olive oil and the thyme.
Heat the butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet over medium heat. Add the orzo and toast until golden and fragrant. You’ll know by the color and smell when it’s done.
Add half the tomato sauce and all of the rice and stir for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the stock and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the rice is tender, 17 to 18 minutes. Try hard not to check the rice too many times as each time you do, you lose valuable moisture and heat from the rice.
Combine the rice mixture, sausage and 3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano. Spoon the filling into the peppers and top with the remaining tomato mixture, and the remaining cheese. Bake until heated through and the tops are browned, about 30 – 45 minutes, depending on your oven.
The stuffed peppers can be covered and refrigerated for a make-ahead meal. Bring to room temperature before baking. Additional baking time will be needed, so keep an eye on them.