In the winter I love spicy, hot food that fills me and sticks. Stuffed peppers or cabbage are among my favorites. (Are you suprised about the cabbage? Practically every recipe I’ve posted has cabbage in it!) This is my easy-peasy lemon-squeezy recipe that can be used with bell peppers, nice big poblano peppers, or cabbage leaves.
First choose your vessel.
If you’re using mild bell peppers, cut each one in half from stem to stern and clean the inside so you’re left with a pepper bowl when you lay it on it’s side. Use four peppers to make eight bowls.
If you’re using sassier poblanos, leave the stem on, lay each on it’s side and cut off a thin layer so that you can clean out the seeds and membranes and be left with a pepper boat. Use eight peppers to make eight bowls.
If you’re using cabbage, cut off the bottom and carefully remove the outter leaves. Boil some salted water and add the leaves, leaving them for just a minute or two until they are soft and pliable. Take them out, cool them quick in a bowl of ice water, and then use a sharp knive to cut away the tough vein. If the leaf is big enough, you should have two flat sheets of cabbage from each big outter leaf. You want 12 big leaves.
Okay, now for the sauce:
- 2 15 ounce (or one 28 ounce) cans of crushed tomato
- 2 crushed garlic cloves
- 1 T olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- crushed red pepper to taste
- 1/2 to 1 cup of water (depending on how thick you want your sauce. Start with 1/2 cup.)
Put everything in a sauce pan and start it simmering while you make the stuffing.
For the stuffing you’ll need:
- 1 pound ground meat or other protein (turkey, beef, chicken, veal, lamb, sausage vegetarian crumbles. Plain tofu might work, but I’ve never tried so I’m not sure. I think refried beans might work, too, and you likely wouldn’t need to use the egg. Experiment!) Ground meat should be raw
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 2 cloves worth of garlic paste, or minced garlic, or garlic powder in a pinch
- 1/2 white onion, minced, or onion powder in a pinch
- 1/4 cup tomato sauce
- 1 egg
- salt and pepper to taste
Mix everything in a big bowl. You’re going for something the consistancy of meatloaf before it’s cooked. If you’re using something other than ground meat, like tofu or beans, you might need more or less tomato sauce. If you’re allergic to eggs, or are vegan, I would think the beans have enough stick-to-it-ness to skip the binding power of the egg.
Now get down and dirty. Spoon a little bit of the sauce into a 9X13 pan. Use your fingers to stuff the stuffing into the vessel. It’s okay to overstuff the peppers. For the cabbage, you want to put some stuffing down the middle of the big leaf and roll it burrito style.
Set each pepper/cabbage roll on top of the sauce in the big pan. Pour the rest of the sauce on top of and around the stuffed yumminess. The peppers or cabbage simmering away in the sauce gives it a really fantastic flavor, and I love adding extra so that I can save what’s left and serve it over rice the next day.
Cover the pan and bake at 350 degrees for an hour. You want the peppers to be very very soft. If they aren’t, re-cover and cook another 15 minutes.