This is the perfect time to make stuffed peppers where I live, because green bell peppers and tomatoes are currently 97 cents a pound and a 630 ml can or jar of tomato sauce is also on sale for 97 cents! It’s super easy if you have leftover rice and lentils for this; otherwise you will need to make them first.
Of course, you have to love peppers to make this recipe, and not just “kind of” like them.
I save this recipe for weekends because the total time is 90 minutes. Skip to the end for a quicker variation!
You will need:
Uncovered casserole dish (baking pan) with sides at least 2″ / 5 cm high
I use a lasagna pan
Olive or other cooking oil for greasing the baking dish
4 large or 6 medium bell peppers, about 2 lbs or 1 kg
Green are the cheapest; red, yellow and orange are sweeter. You will want to check each pepper at the market to see if it can stand up without help, LOL!
2 cups cooked rice
I used 2/3 cup basmati to make 2 cups cooked
2 cups cooked green lentils
I used 3/4 cup dry and boiled them until tender
2 cups prepared tomato sauce or spaghetti sauce
Last year I used roasted tomato sauce I made myself
Optional: 1 tablespoon dried herbs if your sauce is not seasoned
My favourite is dried basil
Optional: 4 T. Parmesan or 2 oz. grated cheddar for topping
Preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C. Grease the baking dish and set aside.
Prepare rice and lentils if you don’t have cooked rice and lentils on hand. Time: about 25 minutes
Chop the tops off each pepper and save them. Of course you will want to remember which one belongs with which, ha ha! Hollow out each pepper, discarding the seeds and membranes. If your peppers lean a lot, you can chop a bit off the bottom to straighten them up for your baking dish. Stand the hollowed-out peppers in the baking dish. It’s fine if they lean against each other or the sides of the pan.
In a large mixing bowl, stir the cooked rice, cooked lentils, 1 cup tomato sauce and the dried herbs, if using. Fill each pepper with the mixture – right to the top. Spoon some additional tomato sauce on top of each pepper (about 3 tablespoons). Put the tops back on the peppers to keep them moist while baking.
Note: You can spoon more tomato sauce over the peppers while they bake, however, the sugars in the sauce may blacken in the pan.
Bake for 1 hour, or until the peppers can be easily pierced with a knife. They should be very soft. The poor peppers will now be saggy, wrinkled, and maybe even a little fire-roasted where they touched the sides of the pan.
In the last few minutes of baking, you can heat additional tomato sauce to pour over the peppers when served.
If using grated cheese, remove tops from peppers, sprinkle with cheese, and broil until bubbly, 1-2 minutes.
Lift the baked peppers onto plates using a slotted spoon.
If you don’t think the peppers look cute anymore with their loosened skins, they can be cut in two from top to bottom to appear more impressive on the plate.
To eat, you chop the pepper and eat it along with the filling – you don’t scoop it out and leave the pepper behind – in case you were wondering (unless you love peppers so much that you want to eat the filling first and the pepper after!)
For the same flavours in a no-bake recipe, make the lentil and rice filling as above. Chop the green peppers and stir fry them until tender, then add them to the lentil-rice mixture and serve.
This is meant to be an inexpensive recipe – you can certainly jazz it up with premium ingredients if you like.
Let me know if you try it!