Crock-pot Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers are so nostalgic for me. The smell of peppers (they have to be green, by the way) roasting in tomato sauce takes me back to my childhood in an instant. Have you noticed that a smell, even a passing smell, can trigger a memory? Making these recipes is my version of a time machine…it takes me back to a specific time in my life that I think of fondly. Its surprisingly powerful; my hope is to continue to collect recipes from relatives, add my own spin to them, and carry on the traditions of my family. My mom used to make large batches of stuffed peppers, and we would eat them for several nights. My recipe differs slightly from the one I grew up with, but I am excited to share it all the same.

One of the ways I changed these peppers was by making them in the Crock-pot. I find that having very tender peppers is the secret to a deliciously comforting stuffed pepper…crunch is not desired in this recipe. Also, I am LOVING my Crock-pot these days; it is amazing to come home to a fully cooked meal thats ready to be devoured the second I walk in the door. I pretend I have a personal chef when I use my Crock-pot. To make things even easier, I made the filling and stuffed the peppers over the weekend. Then, the day I was ready to cook, I poured the tomato sauce over the peppers in the Crock-pot and turned it on. As it turned out, I came down with a terrible sore throat that day and felt extremely loved to come home to a warm, comforting dinner. This recipe definitely gives you a food hug.

Ingredients

  • 1 green bell pepper (per person; I made three this time)
  • 1/2 lb. italian sausage (can be spicy or mild)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 carrot; peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c. cooked brown rice
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling

First, let’s prepare the peppers.

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Lay each pepper on its side and carefully remove just the top, including the stem. Remove all the seeds and white membrane from the inside of the pepper and discard. Reserve the top of the pepper flesh to chop and add to the stuffing mixture. Place peppers into the Crock-pot liner (in the picture above they are in a casserole dish because I prepared this step several days before I cooked them).

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Check out that steam!

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add sausage. Cook until browned (about 5-8 minutes), breaking up the sausage into small pieces with a wooden spoon as it cooks.

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Next, add the onion, carrot, chopped bell pepper tops, and the garlic. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Finally, add the brown rice to the pan and stir to combine.

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Spoon the filling into the bell peppers; fill them all the way to the top!

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Using a spoon, add the crushed tomatoes on each of the peppers; the goal is to cover the filling with sauce to keep it moist. Pour the rest of the crushed tomatoes in the areas around the bell peppers; this is the liquid that will help simmer them to tender perfection.

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Put lid on Crock-pot and turn to LOW for 8-9 hours. When ready to serve, carefully transfer pepper to a plate and cut in half. Sprinkle parmesan cheese, as desired. Traditionally (in my family) these peppers are served with mashed potatoes (it is kind of strange…I don’t really know why we do this), but I prefer to eat them all on their own. I hope you include this recipe in your fall comfort food rotation; enjoy!

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