Courtesy of E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune; Mark Graham/food styling

Recipe of the Day: Stuffed Peppers

This recipe will leave you feeling stuffed!
Courtesy of E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune; Mark Graham/food styling

It's Monday. And if you're like us, the dreaded task of planning your meals for the week has snuck up on you again. Luckily, we've taken some time to think about it so that you don't have to. Kick your week off with this recipe for Serbian-style stuffed peppers; the comfort dish is a tale as old as time, but it never seems to disappoint when it comes to flavor.  

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There's a few different ways to make stuffed bell peppers. You can serve the dish Italian-style with Italian sausage, canned diced tomatoes and Parmesan cheese, Mexican-style with rice, black beans and corn or Serbian-style (like this recipe suggests). For Serbian-style red bell peppers, the filling is added to the bottom half of the peppers and the tops are placed delicately over the filling — they look like little hats!

Another thing that sets Serbian-style stuffed peppers apart from other versions of the dish is the sauce. About three-quarters of the tomato sauce is poured into the bottom of the baking dish with water and the peppers rest on top of the sauce to bake. Because the sauce is so thick, adding water to the pan along with it ensures the sauce doesn't burn during the baking process. The added liquid adds moisture to steam the peppers while they bake. 

This recipe for stuffed peppers serves six — enough to feed your family and then some. If you have any leftovers, you can either store them in the fridge or make them last even longer by individually wrapping them and storing them in the freezer. Now that you know what you're having for dinner this evening, let us help with the rest of the week. Here's more of our easiest dinner recipes for busy weeknights. 

Serbian-Style Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

This recipe written by JeanMarie Brownson originally appeared in The Chicago Tribune.

Ingredients:

For the sauce: 

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 box (26 ounces) or 1 can (28 ounces) chopped tomatoes with liquid
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: ground coriander, salt

For the filling:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper
  • 1/4 cup currants or chopped raisins
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 generous cup warm cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon, salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon each: allspice, finely ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • 6 small yellow or red sweet bell peppers, 3 pounds total (or 8 to 12 large long red or yellow Anaheim peppers)
  • Fresh dill or parsley for garnish

Directions

For tomato sauce: 

Step 1: Cook 1 medium onion in 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until translucent, about 3 minutes.

Step 2: Add 2 cloves of garlic; cook, 30 seconds.

Step 3: Stir in canned tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon each coriander and salt.

Step 4: Simmer, stirring often, about 20 minutes.

Step 5: Remove from heat.

For the filling:

Step 1: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet until hot.

Step 2: Add 1 medium, chopped yellow onion and ground meat.

Step 3: Cook and stir over medium heat, breaking meat up into small pieces, until browned, about 10 minutes.

Step 4: Stir in green pepper, currants and 3 cloves garlic; cook and stir, 5 minutes.

Step 5: Stir in rice, nuts, paprika, cinnamon, salt, allspice and pepper.

Step 6: Remove from heat.

Step 7: Stir in dill.

Step 8: Taste and adjust salt.

Step 9: Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Step 10: Cut the top quarter off the peppers so you can remove the stem and core.

Step 11: Use your fingers or a small spoon to scrape out the seeds.

Step 12: Pour about three-quarters of the tomato sauce into the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish.

Step 13: Use a spoon to stuff each pepper full to the brim with the meat filling.

Step 14: Stand the stuffed peppers upright in the sauce. (If using Anaheim peppers, you will have to lay them in the sauce.)

Step 15: When all the peppers are filled, spoon some of the remaining sauce over the top of each stuffed pepper.

Step 16: Pour 1/2 cup water into the sauce in the bottom of the dish.

Step 17: Cover the dish tightly with foil.

Step 18: Bake until the peppers are tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour for the Anaheim peppers or 1 hour and 15 minutes for the bell peppers.

Step 19: Let cool a few minutes.

Step 20: Serve garnished with dill or parsley

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