Let’s be honest: eating light can get boring! Lighter meals often means a lot of chicken or fish, and not a whole lot more. To keep mealtime exciting (yes, even when lightening up), I recommend switching up your proteins and textures so it feels like you’ve got a variety in your diet. These stuffed peppers are not only light, but boy do they pack a punch of flavor! I cook together ground beef, carrots, onions, celery, red peppers and garlic with brown rice in a tangy and spicy tomato sauce that puts the zing in lunch or dinner. Packed full with the savory mixture, these peppers won’t leave you hungry, and by letting the flavors develop in the sauce, the mixture is super flavorful, even if it’s made from primarily “lighter” ingredients. If you wanted a slightly more indulgent version, top these with sharp cheddar cheese before baking. You won’t be disappointed with these peppers, I promise! Bon appetit!

Ingredients

1/2 lb lean ground beef

4 red peppers, prepared as below

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 large carrot, unpeeled and diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 14 oz can tomato sauce

1 cup cooked brown rice

Directions

Start by preparing the red peppers. Roll the peppers on the board until you find a relatively flat portion that will let them sit on their own. With a sharp knife, gently take off about 1/3 of the side of the pepper lengthwise to create a “boat” type shape. Using a paring knife, carefully remove the seeds and membranes of the peppers, wash and set aside. Dice the remaining “tops” and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Heat a large dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pan, and saute the beef until browned and cooked through. Remove to a plate covered with paper towels and let the excess fat dry off. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp cooking oil in the pot and add the onions, celery and carrots and saute 8-10 minutes until translucent but still firm. Add the diced peppers and saute 3-5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Next, add the thyme and garlic and cook for 1 minute until the garlic is fragrant. Add the tomato sauce and stir, bringing the mixture to a simmer. Add the red pepper flakes and return the beef to the pan. Check seasonings and allow the mixture to cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, and stir in the rice. Place the lid on the pot and let the mixture cool for 30 minutes while the flavors develop.

Spray a 9×9 casserole dish with cooking spray and place the peppers in the dish. Carefully fill each pepper with the cooled mixture. If you have any excess you can always make another pepper, or it makes a delicious lunch on it’s own! Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake at 350F for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest (covered) for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

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