Stuffed peppers. Blahhh! Stuffed peppers. Blahhh!
We eat ‘em, because Mom made them. Why did she make them? Because her mom made them! Now, don’t get me wrong. Some stuffed pepper recipes from Mom are great, but I have found the majority to be, well, like I said, Blahhh! Limp green bell peppers, rice and some kind of ground beef with some kind of innocuous gravy/sauce that usually tastes, well, blahh.
And then comes the moment when someone gets the idea to leave out those peppers, and we get ground beef rice balls. Or, as we have heard them called around here, porcupines. Picture the kids playing with friends in the backyard, and asking mom what’s for dinner, and her answering ‘Porcupines’! That’s when the rumors start.
So at this time of year, the peppers are being harvested, and they are gorgeous. I’ve got purple, green, red, and orange cultivars coming in and I’ve got to cook ‘em. But how? Well, we’ll do what any red-blooded mom would do— We’ll stuff ‘em!!
Now, our bell peppers are from the family capsicum annuum, indigenous to the Americas, and brought to Europe and the rest of the world by our old buddy C. Columbus. China is now the largest producer of bell peppers, producing over 14 million metric tons of them! That’s a lot of stir fries! These peppers are a member of the nightshade family, as we discussed in my eggplant blog. Bell peppers are not to be confused with hot peppers. Believe it or not, bell peppers are the only member of the capsicum family that do NOT produce capsaicin, the chemical that burns ordinary people’s mouths. But not Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s mouth!
Anyway, I was trying to think outside the box, when it occurred to me to just stuff them with something really yummy — kinda like the opposite of how we got porcupines, and let the imagination run wild. Do you like chicken parmigiana? I love chicken parmigiana!! I would eat it on cardboard, so why not eat it on some really fresh yummy peppers? You’re welcome!
Chicken Parmigiana Baked Stuffed Bell Peppers
4 large bell peppers, cored, seeded and halved lengthwise
16 oz. breaded cooked chicken cutlets cooled and roughly chopped
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesano Reggiano grated (D.O.P. or the next best thing)
1-1/2 cups fresh made marinara sauce
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
a pinch of crushed red pepper
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh ground California garlic, or 3 fresh cloves minced
1/2 cup white wine
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups mozzarella, Parmesan, garlic, marinara, parsley, and red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Stir until combined, then gently fold in chopped chicken.
3. Arrange the pepper halves in a baking pan.
4. Spoon the mixture equally into the 8 pepper halves.
5. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella over the peppers
6. Add the wine to the baking dish.
7. Cover with foil, and bake for 55 minutes to an hour. Uncover and broil for 2 minutes or so, watching carefully to not burn!
8. Garnish with parsley and more parmesan cheese, if desired, and enjoy!!