Stuffed Cubanelle Peppers in Tomato Sauce
“Cooking is like painting or writing a song. Just as there are only so many notes or colors, there are only so many flavors – it’s how you combine them that sets you apart.”
Wolfgang Pack, restaurateur & celebrity chef.
When we think of something tasty, somehow it turns out to be a more complex cooking than we are ready to do at the moment. However, there are certain dishes that are very yummy and not that complex as it may seem. Stuffed peppers is one of them. I transitioned to this dish from stuffed cabbage – a very popular Russian dish. What I did not like about stuffed cabbage is that it took longer to cook it. Separating and wrapping leaves slows you down, and peppers, on the contrary, are right-shaped hollow creatures ready to be stuffed. This is a vegetarian option, which makes it even faster for the final dish to be served.
Living in Florida, I “met” a lot of peppers! You are free to experiment with your favorite ones later, but for this recipe it is better to first stick with the sweet pepper varieties. There exists the Scoville Scale to check the heat level of peppers. Cubanelle has from 100 to 1000 Scoville heat units. I find it just cool to know what is what. I eat more spicy food in hot climate than I did before, so sometimes I cannot even tell which pepper is “hotter”:-) Hope you find this picture useful. The full list on the Scoville Scale can be found here.
(Photo from here.)
So, prepare your taste buds, and let’s go!
– 6-8 Cubanelle peppers, roasted/grilled (6 used for this recipe)
– grapeseed oil for grilling peppers
– 1 can of crushed tomatoes (28 oz.)
– 200 g (0.8 cup) of your favorite dry rice, cooked (white rice is used here)
– 1 can of organic cooked black beans, 25 oz. (Westbrae Natural is used in this recipe)
– 1 big red onion, chopped
– grapeseed oil (Napa Valley is used here)
– 1 bulb of white/green onion
– dry spices: garlic powder with parsley, cumin powder, asafoetida (Vandevi Hing used here), paprika, organic black pepper, allspice plus salt to taste
– fresh herbs: cilantro, basil, 2 small red chilli peppers
– fresh herbs: cilantro, basil
– grated cheese – Parmesan used here, but soft cheese that melts can be used as well
1. Cook rice. Add rice to cold water (one part rice, two parts water), add cumin powder, green cardamom, curry powder, allspice, paprika powder and butter. Bring it to boil and reduce the heat. Cook for 15 minutes. Then check for readiness, salt it, add more butter, and set aside.
2. While rice is cooking, remove stems from peppers by pushing them inwards. Shake peppers to remove seeds. Throw hollow peppers on a hot oiled large skillet, and let them grill with no lid on. Flip them when one side is slightly browned until all sides seem evenly browned/cooked. They can still be firm. So, you lower the heat, cover them with the lid and continue cooking checking regularly until they are soft. It should take only a few minutes. Use the fork to check their softness. Once they are done, remove them from the skillet and set aside to cool off.
3. Chop onions and sautee them lightly on the same large skillet. Rinse cooked black beans if you used canned ones (it decreases sodium). When onions are translucent, add black beans. Chop fresh herbs (green onions, cilantro, basil, red chilli pepper), and add them to the mixture. Stir in dry spices (garlic powder, cumin seed, paprika, allspice, asafoetida), butter (optional) and 12 TSPF of cooked rice. This will be your stuffing. Let it cool off a bit so you would not burn yourself.
4. Take a small spoon and fill in hollow roasted peppers with the mixture. Do not push it too hard otherwise the peppers may get torn.
5. Heat crushed tomatoes (sauce) in a large skillet, add fresh green herbs and stuffed peppers. Handle stuffed peppers carefully, so that they would not fall apart. Pour tomato sauce over peppers, and let them simmer with the lid covered for a few minutes to make the sauce less watery. You will have the remaining mixture of rice and beans. You may add 4-5 TBSP of the mixture right into the sauce between the peppers. It would make your sauce thicker, more filling and rich. If you add the mixture, let it simmer for another minute or two under the lid on a very low heat.
Serve peppers with sauce on top. Sprinkle fresh herbs and grated Parmesan cheese (optional).
Tips & comments:
– Poblano peppers or Sweet Bell peppers can be used instead of Cubanelle peppers. I like using Cubanelle peppers for their thinner flesh, so your eating experience is more “gourmet-ish”. You can also use sweet mini peppers but it takes longer to stuff them.
– Any beans can be used for stuffing. Black beans are probably the richest in taste, so they make a perfect ingredient for a vegetarian dish like that.
– You will have a surplus of rice and beans if you use only 6 peppers. That’s why you can add it to the tomato sauce at the end or just put it in your fridge to use for another dish. You can safely use two or even three more peppers to stuff.
– If you would like a different sauce, you can make your own white sauce. Sour-cream, carrots, tomatoes, onions, butter and cheese can be used for making white sauce. Sautee onions with carrots, then add tomatoes, then sour-cream and cheese. Keep stirring until the sauce gets thick. In this case just pour it over stuffed peppers when serving. Or use oven to let the cheese melt, and sauce – soak into peppers.
– You are free to experiment with your stuffing. I sometimes add sweet corn or extra small young corn (baby corn). Your imagination is the limit.:-)
One of my previous recipes with regular sweet peppers and sour cream sauce:
Mini sweet stuffed peppers – great for snacks at the parties:
Enjoy! Remember to share this recipe with your friends!
The Amateur Expert.
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Author: Elena White