Turkey (or Chicken) Italian Sausage & Ground Beef (or Turkey) Stuffed Peppers
**FYI: This recipe takes a while to make, so be sure you have the time! Lots of chopping…my boyfriend and I finally ate dinner at 10:00 last night! But it was sooo worth it. You can use either ground beef or ground turkey. I chose turkey because my boyfriend is very health conscious. Also, my grocery store was out of turkey Italian sausage, so I had to go with chicken. Oh well! It was still wonderful!! 🙂
What you need:
6 red / green / yellow / orange peppers (all one color or a mixture of colors – up to you!)
1 lb of extra lean ground beef (or turkey, of course)
1 pack / 5 links (19.5 oz) of turkey (or chicken) Italian sausage (mild or hot – I used mild…but it would be great with an extra kick!)
1 medium onion, finely diced
Tops of peppers (~1 cup), finely diced
4-6 teaspoons of olive oil
~1 cup of tomato sauce with basil (if you’re health conscious, find a can that’s lowest in sugar content)
~2 cups of grated low fat mozzarella cheese
~1/2 cup grated Parmesan
What to do:
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Cut the tops off of the peppers, making sure that the part you cut off is enough to dice up for the filling.
Take out the ribs and seeds of the peppers (the bitter, white part) so they’re now like cups.
Poke a small hole in the bottom of each pepper by putting the point in the middle of the base of the pepper cup and twisting your knife in a circle. (This helps the juice to drain out of the bottom while it’s in the oven.)
**FYI: If the peppers won’t stand up straight, square off the bottom by thinly slicing the thick part off, but make sure you don’t cut a giant hole in the bottom of the pepper!
Choose a pan that will help the peppers stand up straight and spray it with nonstick spray.
**FYI: My casserole dish was a little too big, so the peppers wanted to slide around…I suggest using a casserole dish that will keep the peppers snug.
In a very large pan, add a small amount of olive oil and brown your ground turkey/beef. Make sure to break it up as small as you can get it. If you need to use a potato masher, do it!
**FYI: As you are browning your meat, multitask!! Use this time to start chopping veggies (peppers and onions)…otherwise, you’ll be there all night. TO DO THE TOPS OF THE PEPPERS: I suggest laying the flat side down, and circling the stem with the tip of your knife. this is the easiest way to remove that top bitter part of the inside of the pepper. You should have little pepper rings after you’re done. THEN finely dice them! Easy!
After your meat is browned, drain it in a colander or a mesh strainer (depending on how small your bits of meat are).
**FYI: At this point, the original recipe tells you to rinse your meat with hot water to remove the fat…I didn’t do this for two reasons: 1) I used turkey, so there wasn’t much fat to begin with, and 2) FAT = FLAVOR! 🙂
Keeping the ground beef/turkey in the colander, add a little bit more olive oil to the same pan that you just used. Slice the sausage links along the side, and remove the casing. Add the sausage to the pan and brown, breaking it up as much as you can.
Drain the sausage in the same colander and let sit for a few minutes while you get everything else ready.
**FYI: The recipe tells you, again, to rinse the fat off of the sausage…I didn’t.
Add a little bit more olive oil to that same pan (it’s nice that it only takes one pan!!) and cook your finely diced peppers and onions for about 4 – 5 minutes. Once they start to soften, turn off the heat and add your drained meat back to the pan. (This is why you need a very large pan!)
Add about 1 cup of tomato sauce – just enough to moisten the mixture! Add salt and pepper to taste.
Mix in your cheeses (I just eyeballed it), but save a little bit of Mozzarella for the tops of the peppers.
Stuff each pepper cup with your filling and place them in your casserole dish. Make sure you press all of it in so it fits tightly, otherwise you won’t be able to use all of your filling.
Add the rest of your Mozzarella to the tops of the peppers. Cover the dish loosely with foil, but don’t let it touch the tops of the peppers! It’ll take the cheese right off if you let it touch.
Bake, covered, for about 30 minutes. Remove foil, then bake again for about 20 more minutes until the tops of the peppers are slightly browned and the cheese is melted. Serve hot!
**FYI: At this point, I was getting tired (it was about 9:30!), so I put the peppers in, covered for about 25 minutes…but about halfway through that, I cranked the heat up to 400 degrees. Then I removed the foil and let them go for about 20 more minutes. They were wonderful!
The original recipe says that this freezes well, so if you don’t eat all of it, wrap it up nice and tight and stick it in the freezer for an easy lunch or dinner! 🙂