It has been a few months since I last made this recipe, and I forgot how good it is. In fact, these peppers pleasantly surprise me nearly every time I make them. I had one giant red pepper from my garden (barely turned red before the freeze), so I was even able to make this batch partially homegrown.
Hmmm … next year I really need a bigger garden.
The best part about this recipe is that it can be incredibly fast. It uses leftover chunky spaghetti sauce as the base, so it’s a way to creatively repurpose leftovers. It can be meat ragu or a chunky veggie sauce, whatever you have. This week I made a nice big batch of meat sauce on Monday night using some grass fed beef.
I reserved three cups of this delicious sauce for stuffed peppers a few nights later.
The night I was ready for the stuffed peppers, this was a 30-ish minute recipe.
I would call it a flat 30 minute recipe … but I’m not Rachel Ray who already has everything washed and stacked neatly and has the knife skills of a samurai. No, we’ll estimate this at a Good Not Perfect 35 minutes. That means 35 minutes actually passed between me walking into the kitchen and the peppers cooling on the stove.
The thing that makes these foolproof is you already have the cooked sauce … and you steam the peppers in the microwave while you prepare the stuffing and preheat the oven. Multitasking at its finest!
Mix your three cups of leftover chunky sauce with the whole wheat couscous, parsley, grated cheese, and raisins.
Wisk the liquids (vinegar, oil, water, and tomato paste) in the bottom of the glass baking dish. By the way, the recipe only calls for two tablespoons of tomato paste, which is a perfect opportunity to use this handy toothpaste tube tomato paste from your fridge.
I love it when I am prepared. You can order some here if you want some too! affiliate link
Pull the stuffed peppers out of the microwave and stuff the peppers with the stuffing mix.
Then just pop them in the oven for about 20 minutes to let the couscous absorb some moisture and soften up. Because the meat and peppers are already cooked, there is no need to worry about meat getting cooked through, like most traditional stuffed pepper recipes.
Here is the recipe, I originally discovered here. The sweetness of the raisins offsets the acidity of the tomato sauce. It fits my requirements because it is fast, easy, and requires minimal prep during the 30 minutes of insanity leading up to dinner in our household.
- 3 large or 4 small bell peppers (red or yellow work best), halved lengthwise, seeds removed
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- About 3 cups leftover chunky spagetti sauce (either meat or veggie)
- 1/2 cup whole wheat couscous (I bought mine at Trader Joe’s)
- 3/4 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup grated asiago or fontina cheese
- 4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (or sub ~1/4 cup dried parsley)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Toss the bell pepper halves with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large glass bowl. Cover and microwave until the peppers soften, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix the leftover sauce, couscous, raisins, 1/2 cup cheese, 3 teaspoons vinegar, the parsley and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl.
- Whisk the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon vinegar, the tomato paste and 3/4 cup water in the bottom of a large nonreactive baking dish. Carefully transfer the peppers, cut-side up, to the baking dish and fill with the couscous mixture. (Optional: Sprinkle with additional cheese).
- Cover the dish with foil and bake until the peppers are tender and the filling is hot, about 20 minutes. Transfer to plates and drizzle with the cooking liquid from the dish.
If you want to make this vegetarian, for the base sauce you could get really creative with squash, sweet potato, mirepoix … the possibilities are endless.
Then enjoy your easy, colorful, healthy, satisfying meal.