Stuffed Cubanelle Peppers

Courtesy of Mark Casasanto

Let’s face it, there are some nights that you just don’t have the time to do a major dinner prep with an extended cooking period. That’s why I love the ease and flexibility of a good stuffed pepper. Far and away, the cubanelle is my favorite pepper to cook with. So in a twist from the traditional stuffed pepper that generally calls for a medium sized bell pepper, when I can get dual colored cubanelles, it’s game on! The other great option associated with a stuffed pepper is you can basically decide on your favorite type of ground protein – maybe the type you just happen to have on hand in the refrigerator or freezer. Or go meatless with vegetables options that pair with rice for the stuffing. Don’t be afraid to be creative. Now here’s my favorite. Buon appetito!

Ingredients:
6 cubanelle peppers (dual colored if possible). Choose firm and lengthier ones.
3/4 lb – ground veal
1 cup of jasmine or basmati rice (not instant) 
1 1/2 cups of water
1 small (15 oz) can of tomato sauce such as Pastene or Cento.
1 cup of shredded mozzarella or pre-shredded Italian blend cheeses
1 cup canola oil
Coating and a drizzle of olive oil
Minced garlic (about a tbsp.)
Salt
Cracked pepper 
Onion powder
Dried basil
Sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Bring rice to a boil in water until tender enough to eat, do not over cook. Wash the peppers, pat dry. Cut off the stem and top of the pepper very thinly, but enough to remove the veins and seeds from the pepper without ripping or tearing. Shake the remainder of the pepper seeds out in a sink to discard along with the tops, stems and veins. Set aside. Coat a mid size skillet with olive oil, heat then add garlic to lightly brown. Add ground veal and brown, while using a spatula to continually separate until meat is cooked but not over cooked. Shut off heat and once the rice is complete, drain off excess water, then mix into the skillet with the veal. Once mixed, pour the entire can of sauce into the mixture, and combine thoroughly over medium heat until sauce begins to bubble. Remove from heat and let cool for about ten minutes. Mix cheese into the veal/ rice mixture. Season with the dry spices to your taste and blend in well. Once complete, take a spoon and begin to stuff your peppers. Tip: Shake the mixture down through the length of the pepper to completely stuff. Coat a medium baking dish with the canola oil and lay each stuffed pepper into the dish, be sure they are not on top of each other. Once placed in the dish, drizzle a little olive oil onto each pepper then top with more salt, pepper and the grated Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until pepper skins start to blister. Do not burn. Remove and let cool for five minutes. Use a spatula to serve lengthwise. Great as a main dish (shown here with sautéed, buttered snap peas) or as side or starter. Mangiamo!

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