Stuffed bell peppers are a commonly made versatile dish. They are often considered a comfort food, essentially a meatloaf in a pepper, and like most comfort foods they can be easily personalized.
There are so many recipes you can find for stuffed peppers but this is a food that is best when it has your own homemade touch to it. This could be why we don’t see this dish served in restaurants very often.
The best tip to be offered is to perfect a recipe and then put your own touches on it. You can give it a specific ethnic identity, dress it up for a pot luck or even make it festive for specific holidays.
For cooks who have few precious moments in the kitchen you can buy ingredients that are prepared for you. Look for pre-cut onions in the produce section of your market or, if you are buying ingredients ahead of time some grocery stores have them frozen for you to use anytime.
You can also find garlic pre-minced or pre-chopped in a jar. This is convenient as jarred garlic keeps for a long time. Some stores carry precooked rice in the rice aisle or in the frozen foods section which serves as a major time saver.
When using canned ingredients simply open the can and cut ingredients inside the can with scissors or kitchen shears and then drain to save time on chopping and cleaning up.
You can also save time by preparing the filling and stuffing the peppers the night before and refrigerating over night so all that is left to do is bake.
Again, there are many recipes for stuffed bell peppers and therefore many methods to cooking this dish. If your recipe instructs you to boil the peppers and filling before baking make sure to boil them separately and then stuff.
This will prevent the liquid from building up in the pepper which can turn the peppers to mush. If you prefer to have a fresher, crisper texture to your peppers skip boiling them all together.
This is especially convenient if you are transferring the bell peppers to another container whether for travel or for presenting. If the peppers get too mushy they can fall apart when they are transferred.
When you have finished stuffing your peppers you are likely to have leftover filling. This can be frozen for a future meal or saved for an empanada filling or for some other meat filled dish.
You can also use the leftover meat filling to make mini meatloaves in a cupcake pan if you have guests that prefer not to eat the bell pepper.
If you are serving this dish at a pot luck or just transporting it for a family dinner you might consider using a bundt cake pan so the peppers can stand up and remain covered. Stuffed bell peppers are a great dish to dress up seasonally.
Bell peppers come in many colors depending on their ripeness. You can commonly find green, yellow, red and orange, but in some markets you can even find varieties that are brown, white, blue or purple.
Fall colors can be used when you want to serve an autumn dish.
Likewise, you can serve green and red bell peppers for Christmas or if you can find them, blue and white for Chanukah. The possibilities are vast in terms of presentation and are a fun way to celebrate special times.
Another tip for cooking stuffed peppers is to add ingredients that you prefer. The beauty of a dish like this is that it is very flexible. You can also add specifically ethnic ingredients to convey a certain origin.
Italian cooks usually make these peppers with cheese on top. To give it a southwest flavor you can add cumin and chili powder. Barbecue sauce adds a great southern tang and curry and coriander will lend an Indian flavor to your stuffed peppers.
The most important tip is to experiment and have fun with your food. Use these tips to help you master your own stuffed bell peppers and make them a favorite at your table.