Sometimes, just sometimes, the little rabbit cooks rather than bakes. I always opt for a giant slice of chocolate cake over anything salty or fried, but sometimes it's important to rouse the salty taste buds from dormancy to ensure they haven't been overrun by their sweeter counterparts.
I was drawn to the bright green, yellow, orange and red peppers in the market last week, which inspired me to cook bell peppers stuffed with rice, beef, thyme and basil, as well as a roasted red pepper dressing with fresh thyme.
These peppers are steamed before stuffing and baking, which creates a soft, sweet pepper that simply melts in your mouth. The smooth, creamy meat and rice filling is contrasted nicely with a crunchy topping of bread crumbs and cheese. Paired with a salad draped in roasted red pepper dressing, you have a healthy and flavorful meal, a well-matched competitor for that slice of chocolate cake.
Stuffed Bell Peppers
Makes 8 stuffed pepper halves
4 peppers, any color
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
3/4 tsp dried thyme
1 cup cooked rice
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
2 large eggs
1 tsp dried basil
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1. Prepare the peppers by slicing in half and removing the stems and seeds and steam for 10 minutes over boiling water. Place in an oiled baking dish and preheat the oven to 375 F.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the ground beef, chopped onion and thyme and cook on medium heat until the meat is browned and the onion tender, roughly 10 minutes. Add the chopped tomato, eggs, basil and rice. Season with Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
3. Spoon the filling into the peppers and sprinkle the tops with the bread crumbs and dot with butter. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn on the broiler. Sprinkle the tops of the peppers with the cheese and broil until the cheese is melted and golden.
Roasted Red Pepper Dressing
2 red peppers
2 tbsp fresh thyme
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. Turn the oven broiler on. Rub the peppers in olive oil and place on a baking tray. Place under the broiler and watch carefully. As soon as the peppers upper surface begins to char, remove the peppers from the oven and turn. Repeat on all 4 sides until the peppers are completely charred. Place in a sealed bag and allow to cool. The condensation will make the peppers easy to peel.
2. When cool, remove the peppers from the bag, peel the skin and remove the seeds and stem. Place in a blender with the fresh thyme and puree. Add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until use.