Classic Italian stuffed peppers typically call for meat and bread crumbs. But we took a different route in our food appreciation classes. I liked the idea of using brown rice instead of bread, and since we continue to focus on seasonal vegetables, we ditched the meat in favor mushrooms.
A pepper stuffed this way and baked can make a meal on its own–especially if you smother it in your favorite marinara sauce.
To start, you’ll need 2 cups of cooked brown rice. Place it in a large mixing bowl. Meanwhile, in a heavy skillet saute in extra-virgin olive oil 1 medium onion, diced small, and 2 cloves garlic, minced. Add 1 1/2 cups chopped cremini mushrooms, or about 4 ounces. Salt aggressively to draw the juices out of the onion and continue cooking, tossing occasionally, until the onions are soft and the mushrooms cooked through. Stir these into the rice.
Add to the rice mixture 1/2 14-ounce can “petite” diced tomatoes along with 2 beaten eggs. Stir in a fistful chopped parsley leaves and 1/2 cup (or more) grated Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
While the stuffing is resting, cut in half lengthwise 3 large green bell peppers (or red or yellow or any other color you prefer). Carefully slice away the stem and seed ball. Tap out any loose seeds. Lay the halved peppers on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and fill the pepper cavities with the stuffing mix. (Some of the egg mix is bound to leak out of the peppers, so you’ll be glad you used the parchment.) Place in a 375-degree oven and bake 50-60 minutes, or until the peppers are cooked through and the top of the stuffing is golden brown.
To serve, ladle a generous amount of marinara sauce over each pepper, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil to make the peppers “smile” and dust with more Parmesan. I swear, kids go crazy for this.