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Red Peppers Stuffed with Turkey or Mushrooms



Turkey on the left & Veggie on the right...This also shows the size difference between bell peppers. You can get two servings from one very large pepper if you cut it lengthwise.

Give me a stuffed pepper when I was a kid and my first instinct was to throw it across the room. This is not a condemnation of my mom’s cooking skills (she made them rarely) but there was just something about the combination of ground beef and tomato sauce shoved into a bitter green bell pepper the size of my head that was just, well, a disappointment. It’s one of those foods I so disliked as a kid that I was hesitant to try as an adult.

Yet, as an adult, I love bell peppers—especially the red, yellow, and orange ones. Raw, roasted—it doesn’t matter; they’re all delicious. So, why not put my stuffed pepper prejudice aside and try again? Especially since I get to pack my peppers with anything I want!

Since I was thinking about stuffing, I started to think about Thanksgiving flavors. And I came up with these two versions of stuffed peppers: a flavorful bread stuffing mixed with ground turkey for the meat-eaters and mushrooms for the veg heads. Plus, there’s gravy. And almost anything is better with gravy!

Each recipe makes 4 servings.

Veggie Version

4 red bell peppers

4 cups artisan white bread cut into 1-inch cubes (I use ciabatta)

3 TBS olive oil

½ tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

1 tsp dried Italian seasoning

2 TBS olive oil

1 cup cremini or button mushrooms, chopped

2 cups of mixed mushrooms, chopped (I use shitake and oyster mushrooms)

1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped (about ¾ cup)

1 stalk of celery, leaves included if available, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)

¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground sage

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp dried thyme

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (or to taste)

1 tsp lemon juice

2 – 2-1/2 cups homemade or low sodium vegetable stock

¼ cup (4 TBS) Parmesan cheese

Olive oil

1 TBS butter, unsalted

1 scallion, cleaned and chopped (white and green parts both)

1 TBS flour

¼ cup white wine

Pinch of dried sage, garlic powder, and paprika

Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

An inch down from the top of the bell pepper, cut off the stem end. Pop out the stems and discard. Chop the remaining pepper that surrounded the stem and set aside (it will be the ¼ cup you use in the stuffing).

Remove the seeds and membrane from inside the peppers and discard. Place the peppers inside a baking dish and set aside.

In the bottom of a large mixing bowl, add the 3 TBS olive oil, salt, black pepper, and Italian seasoning. Stir together. Add the bread cubes to the oil and stir until well-combined. Place the coated bread cubes on a sheet pan in a single layer. Bake for 10 minutes. Shake the pan or stir the bread cubes to make sure they’re cooking evenly. Bake for another 10 – 15 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy. Remove from the oven and put the toasted bread back into the mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add the 2 TBS olive oil. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes or until the mushrooms begin turning brown. Add the onions, celery, and reserved chopped red bell pepper. Cook for a few minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and spices and cook for one minute. Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the heat.

Add the vegetable mixture to the toasted bread cubes. Stir until well combined. Starting with ¼ cup, stir in the vegetable stock until the stuffing mixture is moist and can be packed together lightly. Do not add more than 1 cup of stock to the stuffing mix. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.

Lightly salt and pepper the inside of the red bell peppers. Fill each pepper to overflowing with the stuffing mixture. Pour the remaining stock into the baking dish; it should come up about one inch on the sides of the peppers. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes.

Carefully remove the dish from the oven. Remove the foil and set aside. Sprinkle 1 TBS of parmesan cheese over each pepper. Drizzle each pepper with a bit of olive oil (about 1 tsp). Return the dish to the oven—without the foil—and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and carefully remove the cooked peppers and place on a serving plate. Cover them loosely with foil.

Heat a skillet on medium. Add the butter and half of the chopped scallions. Once the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk for a minute or two to remove the raw taste of the flour. Whisk in the wine and cook for one minute. Slowly add the vegetable stock from the bottom of the baking dish. Continue whisking, bring to a boil, and cook until slightly thickened; it shouldn’t take longer than a minute or two. Stir in a pinch of sage, garlic powder, and paprika. Remove from the heat and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if necessary.

To serve, pour the gravy equally over the peppers and sprinkle with the remaining scallions.

Meaty Version

4 red bell peppers

4 cups artisan white bread cut into 1-inch cubes (I use ciabatta)

3 TBS olive oil

½ tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

1 tsp dried Italian seasoning

3 TBS olive oil

1 cup cremini or button mushrooms, chopped

1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped (about ¾ cup)

1 stalk of celery, leaves included if available, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)

¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp dried sage

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp dried thyme

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (or to taste)

1 tsp lemon juice

1 pound ground turkey

2 – 2-1/2 cups homemade or low sodium vegetable stock

¼ cup (4 TBS) Parmesan cheese

Olive oil

1 TBS butter, unsalted

1 scallion, cleaned and chopped (white and green parts both)

1 TBS flour

¼ cup white wine

Pinch of dried sage, garlic powder, and paprika

Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

An inch down from the top of the bell pepper, cut off the stem end. Pop out the stems and discard. Chop the remaining pepper that surrounded the stem and set aside (it will be the ¼ cup you use in the stuffing).

Remove the seeds and membrane from inside the peppers and discard. Place the peppers inside a baking dish and set aside.

In the bottom of a large mixing bowl, add the 3 TBS olive oil, salt, black pepper, and Italian seasoning. Stir together. Add the bread cubes to the oil and stir until well-combined. Place the coated bread cubes on a sheet pan in a single layer. Bake for 10 minutes. Shake the pan or stir the bread cubes to make sure they’re cooking evenly. Bake for another 10 – 15 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy. Remove from the oven and put the toasted bread back into the mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add the 2 TBS olive oil. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes or until the mushrooms begin turning brown. Add the onions, celery, and reserved chopped red bell pepper. Cook for a few minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and spices and cook for one minute. Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the heat.

Add the vegetable mixture to the toasted bread cubes. Set aside.

Return the skillet to the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the ground turkey. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Break up the turkey with a spatula or wooden spoon. Cook for a few minutes or until browned. Drain the fat and discard. Add the cooked turkey to the bread and veggie mixture.

Stir until well combined. Starting with ¼ cup, stir in the vegetable stock until the stuffing mixture is moist and can be packed together lightly. Do not add more than 1 cup of stock to the stuffing mix. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.

Lightly salt and pepper the inside of the red bell peppers. Fill each pepper to overflowing with the stuffing mixture. Pour the remaining stock into the baking dish; it should come up about one inch on the sides of the peppers. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes.

Carefully remove the dish from the oven. Remove the foil and set aside. Sprinkle 1 TBS of parmesan cheese over each pepper. Drizzle each pepper with a bit of olive oil (about 1 tsp). Return the dish to the oven—without the foil—and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and carefully remove the cooked peppers and place on a serving plate. Cover them loosely with foil.

Heat a skillet on medium. Add the butter and half of the chopped scallions. Once the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk for a minute or two to remove the raw taste of the flour. Whisk in the wine and cook for one minute. Slowly add the vegetable stock from the bottom of the baking dish. Continue whisking, bring to a boil, and cook until slightly thickened; it shouldn’t take longer than a minute or two. Stir in a pinch of sage, garlic powder, and paprika. Remove from the heat and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if necessary.

To serve, pour the gravy equally over the peppers and sprinkle with the remaining scallions.

Don’t Freak Out!

1) Use whatever color bell pepper you like. If you’re making both versions at the same time, you can use one color of pepper for the turkey and another for the vegetarian version to avoid that awkward, “Did I just eat meat?” situation.

2) You can also cut large bell peppers in half lengthwise and stuff them; or into quarters lengthwise for an appetizer size portion.

3) Skip a step and buy seasoned croutons or stuffing mix. Do not add salt, pepper, olive oil or additional seasoning; just stir into the cooked veggie mixture.

4) Skip another step and heat up a jar or can of chicken or turkey gravy for the Meaty Version and mushroom gravy for the Veggie one.

5) Make it vegan. Top the peppers with shredded vegan mozzarella-style cheese and use vegan margarine or a neutral-flavored oil like canola or grapeseed oil in the gravy.

6) Make it non-alcoholic / halal. Omit the white wine from the gravy and instead add lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Start with ½ TBS and add according to your taste. You don’t want it to be piquant or puckery; just a little bit of acidic to cut the richness.

7) Make it gluten-free. Use gluten-free bread, croutons or stuffing mix. To make the gravy gluten-free, melt the butter and add the scallions. Cook for a minute or until the scallions are translucent. Add the wine and cook for another minute. Add the vegetable stock. In a small bowl, mix 1 tsp cornstarch with enough cold water (it must be cold) to make a slurry or thin paste. Bring the stock to a boil. Add the slurry and whisk for a minute or two until thickened. Remove from the heat, pour over the peppers, and serve immediately.

8) Serve these peppers with a simple mixed greens salad with your favorite vinaigrette or a dollop of cranberry sauce.


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