I love red bell peppers! They even become better when they are cooked; roasted, baked, fried, pureed. I'll take 'em any way you make 'em. One day when I came across some at a local market on sale for 99 cents per pound instead of their usual $3.99 per pound, I had to buy some for dinner that night. And this is what I was inspired to come up with. Please, please use RED bell peppers... the flavor will not be the same with green ones. This is a good main dish (esp. for Lent) or as a side dish.
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 1⁄2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon italian seasoning
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1 (15 ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 cup shredded low-moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 1⁄4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1⁄4 cup romano cheese
- 1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄8 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 large red bell peppers
- fresh parsley
- For the sauce: In a large saucepan, over low heat, sweat onions and garlic in the extra-vigin olive oil until tender (about 5 min) but with no color. Add the tomato paste and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the crushed tomatoes, water, and Italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the tablespoon of sugar if desired to cut the acidity or tartness of the sauce. Simmer for 1 hour on low heat.
- For the filling: While the sauce is simmering, bring the 2 cups water to a boil. Add arborio rice. Return to a boil, reduce heat. Cover and simmer 10-12 minutes. Rice should be al dente. Transfer rice to a large bowl and allow to cool.
- When the rice is cool, add the cheeses, garlic powder, egg, salt, and black pepper. Combine well.
- Cut red bell peppers in half, from top to bottom. Remove seeds and white membranes. Place pepper halves, cut side down, on a large microwave safe plate. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 4 minutes just to slightly soften the peppers
- Fill the pepper halves with about 1/2 cup filling. There should be enough for all 8 halves, don't be afraid to mound the mixture.
- Place peppers in a 9"x13"x2" baking dish. Add the sauce around the peppers, just until the sauce comes half way up the sides of the peppers, not to cover.
- Bake uncovered in a 375 degree oven for 40 min or until the peppers are tender and the cheese is golden brown.
- Spoon sauce over the peppers and garnish with chopped fresh parsley to serve.
- Note: Any additional sauce left may be served on the side.