Stuffed Bell peppers fall into two categories, Shrimp Stuffed Bell Peppers and Meat of your choice stuffed bell peppers. Shrimp is my favorite and we’re in the Lenten season so a posting with shrimp is a no brainer. This is a simple recipe which requires a skill set that consists largely of boiling and stirring. You boil the rice, you parboil the peppers, then stir some veg and shrimp into the rice stuffing and you’re done. After you’ve boiled, stirred & stuffed you sprinkle the top with crumbs and shredded cheese, run it under the broiler and it’s done. It’s a healthy dish that even junk food junkies will eat because who doesn’t like crunchy toasted cheese covered anything?
In addition to the filling you also have two presentation options. You may slice off the top and fill, or you may slice vertically and lay the peppers on their backs. My favorite is the vertical slice since it doubles the available space for the topping, however the horizontal upstanding stuffed pepper is better for freezing. And these freeze very well which can make it worthwhile to double or triple up the recipe.
The prep method is outlined below and involves boiling the rice, parboiling the peppers, sauteeing the veg and seasonings, adding the shrimp, stuffing the peppers, sliding them into the oven and waiting for the house to smell good.
If you’re making the standing version pictured above hollow out the peppers by laying them on their side and slice off the top leaving an opening about two inches wide. Shake out the seeds and remove the white membrane. You can do this with a knife but to get a nice smooth interior remove any straggling pieces with a spoon. One of those serrated grapefruit spoons is perfect. I use a spoon that was unintentionally serrated when I dropped it into a running disposal. Fortunately the original owner is long gone and unaware of the fate of her maimed sterling teaspoon.
Although this is a fairly simple dish it differs from many others in that it’s more intensely flavored with herbs, nutmeg and cayenne. The herb I specify is thyme, but marjoram is a wonderful substitute if you have it, and fresh is best if you do. Finally, you may use any color pepper and top it with any kind of cheese. I strongly recommend using panko for the topping since it starts crunchy and stays crunchy, but dried breadcrumbs are fine too.
And if you’re looking for other lenten recipes you can’t do better than The Catholic Foodie. I kid you not. Only in Louisiana would you have a Catholic themed website with great food. Go there for more lent friendly recipes including this interesting African offering by Gertruda Domayo from Tanzania.
- For the rice:
- ⅔ cup boiled rice
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes (canned or fresh)
- For the bell peppers:
- 4 medium sized bell peppers (any color)
- For the stuffing:
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ cup finely chopped onion (or the white parts of green onions)
- 2 tsp. minced parsley
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1½ tsps. ground thyme
- 1 tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. nutmeg
- black pepper to taste
- cayenne pepper to taste
- ½ lb. small shrimp (or chopped large)
- Breadcrumbs or Panko
- Shredded Cheese (any kind)
- Paprika for dusting the top
- For the Rice:
- Boil rice in ⅔ cups water until done. Stir in the cream, parsley & tomatoes and set aside.
- For the Peppers:
- Cut off the tops and remove seeds & membranes from the inside, then place in a couple of inches of salted water. Cover, bring to a boil and cook for 4 minutes. The peppers should still be very firm.
- Place upright in a greased baking dish or lay sideways if you are slicing the peppers vertically.
- For the stuffing:
- Melt butter and saute onion, garlic, and seasonings for about 5 minutes until soft.
- Fold in the rice & tomato mixture, then raw shrimp. If you have larger shrimp cut them into small chunks.
- Spoon into the peppers, top with breadcrumbs and cheese, and place in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until brown on top.
If you end up with extra stuffing, you can cook it alone in a greased pyrex custard cup.