Our table has been host to ground beef stuffed bell peppers three times this summer, and there will most likely be a fourth time soon as bell peppers are awaiting me in the garden. I made a fresh tomato sauce from garden tomatoes for this dish, but you can use canned tomatoes to make this homemade tomato sauce.
I have never been a green bell pepper fan, always choosing the red or yellow peppers, but when baked slowly in tomato, and filled with a meat filling, they are a summer food with winter comfort. Ground beef stuffed bell peppers take a little more prep than many of my dishes, because I take the time to blanch the peppers. I use a dutch oven with the lid to bake them for about an hour, and then I take the lid off to brown them a little bit.
I season the meat the same way I make meatballs, using bread, Italian cheese, fresh parsley and basil. I do make a paleo option for myself, skipping the bread. The peppers continue to cook in the tomato sauce and the beef takes on the flavor of both. This is so good that even people I know who don’t like bell pepper (me included) love this dish.
This is a basic stuffed peppers recipe that offers you many options using one technique.
Choose your grain or no grain. While many stuffed peppers recipes add rice to the beef, I have never like that combination, as I don’t like rice with tomato sauce. You can replace the bread with rice, but I find the bread gives a much more satisfying texture. You can use bread crumbs instead of bread pieces if that’s what you have.
Paleo Option: I made some of the peppers (for me) with a paleo option, just skipping the bread and cheese altogether. Add in extra olive oil to the meat for moisture.
Sausage or Ground Pork Option: On of the three times I added in some ground sausage to the ground beef for extra flavor, or you could add in ground pork. The ratio is up to you. I recommend 1/4 pound sausage to 3/4 pound beef.
Ground Turkey Option: You can substitute ground turkey for the beef. In that case, add in some olive oil, as ground turkey does not have the flavor of ground beef or the fat. You can pump up the flavor by doubling the cheese, and adding in more aromatic herbs such as sage and rosemary.
Ground Beef option: You might be wondering what kind of ground beef to use for the ground beef stuffed bell peppers. I used grass fed beef, which is on the lean side.
- 6 large Bell Peppers
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 eggs
- 4 slices bread torn, or 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs(optional)
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ onion, diced, sauteed
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- generous helping black pepper
- 4 to 6 cups tomato sauce (recipe using canned tomatoes here or fresh tomatoes here)
- Cut tops off bell pepper. Save to use later if you want to, cut out seeds.
- Blanch peppers in boiling water for five minutes to soften.
- Remove, put in ice bath, cool.
- Mix ground beef with eggs, bread or breadcrumbs, parsley, cheese, salt and pepper.
- Stuff peppers.
- Put tomato sauce into baking dish. I used a dutch oven. You can use either a baking dish or dutch oven. The sauce should come about half way up the peppers.
- Put in oven at 400 degrees uncovered for twenty minutes. Reduce heat to 325. Cover and bake for at least one more hour, or until peppers are softened.