I tried this new recipe tonight in an attempt to rectify a previous recipe I tried that just didn’t live up to expectation. I most definitely think I was successful. The problem is that this wasn’t a recipe in the traditional sense. It was more one of those “dash of this” “pinch of that” kind of recipes. It was delicious though, so if you’re inclined to attempt a recipe that isn’t completely a recipe, I say go for it!
The first time I made this, I used a very traditional recipe. I used ground beef, rice, mostly a mix of Mexican spices, and some cheese on top. This time I chose a more Italian spin on things. I used a mix of ground pork and beef, I used orzo instead of rice and, as you probably predicted, Italian spices! The only thing that stayed the same was the cheese. And it ended up looking a little something like this:
So if you want to know how to make it, here’s the breakdown
4 red bell peppers
2 cups orzo
1.5 lbs meatloaf mix (it’s a mix of pork and beef)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic (or 2 full teaspoons of minced garlic)
3 cups Italian blend shredded cheese (or mozzarella)
1 can of petite diced tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
Crushed red pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 350, throw a large skillet on the stove to get warm on medium-high heat, and get a pot of water boiling. Line a baking sheet with some aluminum foil and then get to your peppers. Cut off the tops and take out the innards. I use a grapefruit spoon which is seriously the greatest thing for this because it has a nice pointy edge. If you don’t have one, they’re really cheap. You should probably just buy one. If you don’t want to do that, I’d use a knife to cut out the inside and then a spoon to scoop everything out. Then you want to lightly rub the peppers in some olive oil, place them on the baking sheet and put them in the oven. Keep an eye on them and if they start to look brown, take them out. You just want them to be soft.
While the peppers are in the oven, you want to cook the pasta in that now boiling pot of water (directions are on the box), and then start your meat mixture. You first want to add the onions, garlic and get those cooked until they are translucent. Then add the meat in and let it brown. Next is a KEY STEP – TAKE THE MEAT OUT AND DRAIN IT. Grease is your enemy here so try to get as much of it out of the pan as possible. This was one of my big mistakes the last time and I definitely paid for it.
After the meat mixture is drained, you want to put it back in the skillet, and season with the oregano, basil and red pepper to taste. If I was guessing, I’d say 2 teaspoons of oregano, 1 teaspoon of basil and 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper. If nothing else the ratio is definitely 2:1:1. And a dash of salt and pepper for good measure. When the meat and pasta are cooked you want to combine them, and add the drained tomatoes and 2 cups of cheese.
At this point, take out the peppers and get ready to stuff those suckers. I just use a big soup spoon and I hold the peppers with a pot holder because they’ll be warm. If they aren’t too hot a paper towel might work. Once the peppers are stuffed, cover the tops of the peppers with cheese. They should look a little something like this:
At this point, they go back into the oven for about 30 minutes.
The funny thing is that when everything is said and done, while the peppers look nice and pretty, I always end up cutting them to bits, to eat them, and then end up looking like this: