Time to pick those peppers

Peppers are in abundance at this time of year and Cathi Litzenberger offers some tasty recipes for using up the colourful veggies

Oh my gosh! Have you seen the crop of peppers flooding the stands and markets these days? A sure sign, along with the cool weather, that fall is almost here.

One of my favourite dishes this time of year is stuffed peppers. Making them with fresh tomatoes and/or freshly homemade sauce does wonders to the flavours of any foods, especially stuffed peppers. This week I’m offering two recipes that make me happy and I hope you’ll give them a try.

Stuffed Pepper Soup

1lb. lean ground beef

1 large onion, diced

2 cups rice (I love to use a mixture of long grain and wild rice)

1 can Hunts flavoured diced tomatoes (red pepper and fennel, roasted garlic, sweet onion etc. — 14.5 oz. can)

1 can tomato sauce — 14.5 oz. can or home made

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. basil

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

1 box chicken stock (32 oz.)

2 cups water

2 tbsp. powdered beef stock

3 bell peppers (I use 1 big green pepper then 4 to 5 red baby bell and 4 to 5 yellow baby bell peppers)

Cheese for topping (optional)

Fresh cracked black pepper for garnish (optional)

In a large soup pot coated with cooking spray, over medium-high heat, brown the grown beef with the onions and rice. I know that sounds odd, but browning the rice gives it a nice nutty flavour — do not allow it to burn!

Meanwhile dice your peppers into small 1/2-inch pieces and set side. Add in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, chicken stock, water, and powdered beef stock, then allow it to come to a boil.

Reduce heat, cover and allow it to cook 20 minutes then add the peppers and allow it to cook another 20-30 minutes (some types of rice may need longer cooking times).

Serve with cheese on top (optional)

Baked Stuffed Peppers

6 large green peppers (or any colours you like)

1 lb. beef, ground

1/2 lb. ground meaty bacon

1⁄2 cup onion, chopped

2 cups home-canned or bought diced tomatoes or sauce

2/3 cup long grain rice

2/3 cup water

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 cup cheddar cheese, Shredded (about 4 ounces)

Cut tops from green peppers; discard seeds and membranes. Chop enough of the tops to make 1/4 cup, set aside.

Cook the whole green peppers, uncovered, in boiling water for about 5 minutes; invert to drain well. Sprinkle insides of peppers lightly with salt.

In a skillet cook ground beef, bacon, onion and 1/4 cup chopped pepper till meat is browned and vegetables are tender.

Drain off excess fat. Add un-drained tomatoes, uncooked rice, water, salt, Worcestershire and a dash of pepper. Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes.

Stuff peppers with meat mixture. Place in a 10x6x2 baking dish. Top with shredded cheese. Bake, covered, in a 350 degree oven for about 40 to 45 minutes, until rice is completely cooked.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every other Wednesday and one Sunday per month.