On Mother’s Day when I told our family friend and dinner guest, Joey, that I had made stuffed peppers for dinner, he immediately smiled and said “I haven’t had those in years, my mom used to make the best ones with filled with hamburger and red sauce!”
While I love a good food memory, I had to break it to him that these were not going to be his mother’s stuffed pepper. In fact these would be totally vegetarian as I was cooking for my mom! He was a good sport and said he was sure he would like them. As I nervously brought them to the table, with a side of homemade simple tomato and basil sauce- I saw the glimmer of hope when he saw the melted cheese on top. Cheese makes everything better! (The crusty rolls helped too.)
At first he politely had a small spoonful of red sauce with his stuffed pepper. He is Italian so the sauce had to pass the test. When he asked for more sauce and cleaned his plate – I knew I had won him over!! He even said yes to letting me send leftovers home with him!beautiful screen porch whenever possible.
6 huge peppers, topped and hollowed out
4-5 sun-dried tomatoes: reconstituted in hot water for 10 mins. drained and diced small. Save the liquid.
1 cup shredded carrots
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
4 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup orzo pasta (measure uncooked)
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped small
2-3 springs fresh herbs – I used golden oregano and sage.
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: shredded cheese for topping peppers
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the peppers upright in a baking dish with high sides. Cook orzo in the veggie broth for two mins less than the package says. Drain but reserve cooking liquid. To the cooked orzo add the tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, spinach, garlic, fresh herbs and S/P. Stuff this mixture into each of the peppers. Drizzle the leftover orzo cooking liquid on top of each pepper. It is okay if it spills over,under and around peppers. Pour the reserved tomato water from reconstituting the dried tomatoes into the baking dish around the peppers. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 45 mins. Peppers should be just fork tender, not falling apart. Uncover the dish and top peppers with cheese if using and bake another 15 mins until melted and bubbly.
Serve split open with a simple tomato sauce and crusty rolls.