Italian Stuffed Peppers
These colorful Italian Stuffed Peppers are a wholesome, incredibly flavorful meal. Bell peppers are stuffed with a seasoned ground beef and rice mixture and baked with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese until perfectly fork tender.
- 3 large or 4 small bell peppers assorted colors (choose equal sized peppers)
For the Filling
- ½ cup long grain white rice
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound 85% to 90% lean ground beef
- ¼ cup diced white or yellow onion
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
For the Topping
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese or as needed
Prepare the Rice and Bell Peppers
Place the rice and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil (I added about 1 teaspoon vegetable oil). Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
While the rice is cooking, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Using a sharp knife, slice the bell peppers in half, lengthwise right through or next to the stem. Trim and discard the stems, if desired. Trim the membranes and knock out the seeds.
Place the peppers in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with the hollowed out sides facing up and add about 1-inch of water to the bottom of the pan. Cover with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, until just slightly tender. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
Remove the peppers from the baking dish, pour off the water, and return the peppers to the empty baking dish. Set aside.
Make the Filling (start while peppers are baking)
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or saute pan over MEDIUM heat. Add the ground beef and onion and cook, breaking the beef up with a spoon as it cooks. Cook until no pink remains and then drain the grease from the skillet.
Return the skillet to the heat and add the tomato paste, vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, pepper, Parmesan, and parsley, and stir to combine. Stir in the cooked rice and remove from the heat.
Assemble and Bake the Peppers
Spoon an equal amount of the filling mixture into each bell pepper. Set aside.
Combine the tomato sauce and Italian seasoning and spoon the mixture evenly over the bell peppers.
Spray the underside of a sheet of foil with nonstick cooking spray (so topping won’t stick) and cover the baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the peppers are very tender. Remove the foil, top with mozzarella cheese, and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
These Italian Stuffed Peppers are a great make-ahead choice. They can be frozen either before or after baking, just remember that the filling should always be thoroughly cooked before freezing.
- Refrigerate - Leftovers should be covered and refrigerated within two hours. Transfer the stuffed peppers to an airtight container to keep them at their freshest and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
- Freezing Cooked Stuffed Peppers - Once cooled, transfer them to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 to 4 months. Individual servings can be wrapped in plastic wrap or foil and stored in freezer-safe plastic storage bags. Allow frozen stuffed peppers to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat in a 350 degree F oven for about 30 to 35 minutes or until warmed through.
- Freezing Unbaked Stuffed Peppers - Partially cook the peppers and thoroughly cook the filling, as directed. Assemble the stuffed peppers in a freezer-safe dish. Cover the dish with a layer of plastic wrap and a layer of heavy duty foil, label it with the date, and freeze for up to 3 to 4 months. Allow the frozen, unbaked stuffed peppers to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before following the baking directions in the recipe.
Serving: 1pepper | Calories: 310kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 63mg | Sodium: 652mg | Potassium: 627mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 594IU | Vitamin C: 116mg | Calcium: 208mg | Iron: 3mg