Today, I got home from a playdate with my kids at 6:30 pm and I needed to get dinner on the table FAST because the kids were super hungry and on the verge of a meltdown. The problem was I didn't have much in my fridge. I had to get a little creative.
I had some red peppers and ground pork, as well as leftover rice and quinoa pilaf from the night before so I decided to make stuffed peppers. Not only did I get to use my leftovers (bonus points!), but I knew that this dish would be filling and serve almost as a complete meal. I say almost because I had to make some steamed broccoli also. What can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment!
To make the stuffing for the peppers, I mixed the following ingredients by hand into 1 lb of ground pork (if you don't eat pork, you can substitute any ground meat or chopped tofu and mushrooms):
2 tbsp dried onion
1 tbsp chopped fresh garlic
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp grated pecorino romano cheese
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pepper
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Hopefully, you already have many of these ingredients handy in your spice rack.
Then I added 1/2 cup of the rice and quinoa pilaf to the mixture. If you don't have rice, you can use any type of grain, pasta or potatoes. Again, a great way to use leftovers! I find that grains provide a nice crunchiness to the dish.
I used a chef's knife to cut two red peppers in half horizontally and removed the seeds and veins from the inside of the peppers with my hand. I then stuffed the mixture into the halved red peppers (overstuffing a little because meat shrinks a little when cooked).
I poured a 2 inch layer of First Field pure strained tomatoes into a glass oven-safe dish. I bought these tomatoes from Trader Joe's but you can get it now at many grocery stores. Trust me, the flavor of these tomatoes are amazing and will literally cause a flavor explosion in your mouth. I also like the fact that it's a local product for me since it's made from New Jersey tomatoes.
I added my homemade bruschetta seasoning to the strained tomatoes in the glass dish. For my seasoning, I use equal parts (a couple of pinches) salt, garlic powder, dried basil and crushed red pepper.
Then, I placed the stuffed peppers atop the layer of strained tomatoes.
I covered the dish and put it in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
I had dinner on the table by 7:10 pm. This dish was enough to serve my entire family (along with the steamed broccoli, of course). Even my husband was getting full after eating one of the stuffed peppers!
For a little guilty pleasure, sop up any remaining tomato sauce with some buttered toast!