I think a wise man said something like, "Everything is better with Bacon." Or maybe that was Homer Simpson....It's not really important because I personally think that everything is better with SAUSAGE. My sister in law was looking for a recipe that combined red peppers and sausage to make her feel a little healthier about eating sausage. So when I saw those luscious and large red peppers at the farmer's market, I knew it was kismet. This weekend's table would feature her request for a new stuffed bell pepper recipe that still satisfied the sausage craving.
As one of my guest's who tried it remarked, this sausage stuffed pepper almost tastes like a pizza! And that made me smile because I was going for that brooklyn style pizza taste without the high glycemic index. I also wanted to eat my sausage without consuming two or three of them. Ultimately, I combined sweet italian sausage, shitake mushrooms, shallots, garlic, cherry tomatoes and wild rice with some fresh thyme and basil and some hard cheese, stuffing a slightly charred red pepper until it almost overflowed.
Now I will say that this is a hearty dish, particularly suited for the fall that is upon us. This recipe is not one that one can whip up in a matter of minutes. But what is nice about it is that you can have it all prepared ahead of time well before your guests arrive so that YOU can relax and chat and enjoy a glass of wine while the peppers heat up and get browned.
Sausage Stuffed Red Bell Peppers
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 1 hour 15 mins
- 4 large red peppers, halved lengthwise and deseeded
- 1 tbsp olive oil (for brushing on pepper halves)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 3/4 cup wild rice
- 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup shitake mushrooms, chopped
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tbsp basil, chopped
- 10 sprigs of thyme (leaves only)
- 1 cup grated hard cheese (I used a 3 cheese blend of parmesan, pecorino and fontina) 2/3 for mixture plus 1/3 cup for topping
- 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs for topping
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Half and deseed red peppers. Place cut side down on a baking dish and brush with olive oil and grind sea salt and pepper to taste. Cut an X in the middle of each pepper (about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch). Cook for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Meanwhile, bring 3/4 cup wild rice and 3 cups of wild rice to a boil and reduce to a simmer, cooking for 60-70 minutes. I usually remove it and drain it once the inner part of the wild rice begins to pop out of its hard casing. Drain and set aside.
- Coat a frying pan with a thin amount of olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Then add the shitake mushrooms and tomatoes to the pan. Cook for an additional 4-5 minutes until the shitake mushrooms begin to brown and the tomatoes are softened and slightly blistery (but not to the point where they begin to break down). Set the veggies aside in a bowl.
- After removing from their casings, add the sausage crumbled to the pan and cook through until it begins to brown. About 5 minutes.
- Combine the veggies, sausage and rice together. Add 2/3 cup grated hard cheese, fresh basil and thyme and salt and pepper to taste.
- Stuff each pepper with the filling until it is nearly overflowing. You can make through this step several hours ahead of time and refrigerate.
- Heat oven to 375. Bake for 25 minutes. If you want to achieve a little extra brown to the top, switch to a broil for 2 minutes. Remove from oven and serve.
Julie du Pont is a Darien resident, mom and lawyer. She blogs about food and entertaining at weekendtable.com.