Greetings everyone, I hope you’re having a great week, and had a wonderful 4th of July weekend! Can you believe it’s already come and gone? What did you end up doing?
Ben, the little boy and I, plus my parents, flew to DC to visit my in-laws for the holiday (oh hey, flying with a seat-kicking, light-button pushing toddler!) Flight aside, we had an unbelievable time and the highlight of our trip was watching fireworks in front of the White House on the 4th. Definitely a big check mark on the ‘ol bucket list. No Obama sightings at the show, though we did stay in a hotel across from his church for the night. Yes, we got up to spy and see if went to services, no he did not show up. C’mon, man! ;)
I’ll have more trip details for you on Friday, but first…dinner!
After sharing nibbles and drinks last week, it feels good to get back into a main meal routine both on the blog and back at home. My in-laws feed us like kings when we visit, and this trip was no different, so after feasting for a week I’m ready for salads and skillet dinners like my Dirty Rice Stuffed Peppers with Red Sauce. Oh yes, yes I did.
If you’re an OG IGE reader than you know I’ve had a fierce hatred for mushrooms, bell peppers and cooked carrots nearly all my life. Well, as you get older things change (thanks, gravity!) including your tastebuds. In the last year I’ve opened my heart and mouth to mushrooms, and have recently been getting into bell peppers, too. So much so that I took a leap and stuffed a bunch with dirty rice drizzled with red sauce, and proceeded to eat like, SIX in a row.
Guess what? Bell peppers do not taste bell peppery when stuffed and roasted! It’s a vegetable miracle! While raw green bell peppers have a sharp, shouty flavor, roasted peppers are mild and almost sweet tasting. Stuffed with homemade dirty rice (minus the traditional gizzards, plus savory andouille sausage – you’re welcome,) and drizzled with a 15 minute, pantry sauce, these stuffed peppers are fresh, savory, and really filling, too. Plus the dirty rice and sauce components use the same ingredients so you can chop once and use twice. Love that!
I can’t say I’m ready to start growing my own bell peppers yet, but I believe this is the time of year when they start crowding each other out of the garden, aka some of you home gardeners may be in need of recipes to use ’em up. Take my word for it, and make these stuffed peppers. The dirty rice inside is unbelievably delicious and stuffing it into an edible vessel obviously takes things up a notch!
Start by slicing 4 medium-sized green bell peppers in half then remove the ribs and seeds. If you need to, slice off a thin sliver from the back, then lay the pepper halves flat in a nonstick sprayed 9×13″ baking dish and then spray the tops with nonstick spray.
Next start the dirty rice stuffing. Dirty Rice is a classic Cajun dish that get its “dirty” color from the addition of chicken gizzards to the mix, though I skipped the gizzards and swapped in chopped andouille sausage and oh my gosh is it off the charts delicious. Creamy, flavorful rice and spicy sausage – I was alternating eating a spoonful and scooping one into the peppers!
Saute chopped onions, celery and andouille sausage (I used the same kind as I did for my Spicy Shrimp and Sausage Skewers,) sprinkled with Cajun seasoning, until the vegetables are tender and the sausage is sizzling. Add minced garlic then saute for another minute.
Next add 2 cups chicken broth, 1 cup uncooked white rice, and a touch more Cajun seasoning, then bring the broth to a boil. Place a lid on top then turn the heat down and simmer until the rice is tender, 15-20 minutes.
Stir in 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley then voila – dirty rice! Honestly this rice alone makes a phenomenal meal, but we’ve got some stuffing to do.
Scoop the rice mixture into the bell pepper halves then cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove the foil then turn the heat up to 400 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the peppers are crisp tender.
Meanwhile, make a super simple red sauce to drizzle on top. I don’t know about you, but in my opinion a meal isn’t a meal without some sauce. All you have to do is saute more chopped onion, celery, and garlic in extra virgin olive oil then add 1 bay leaf, a pinch of dried thyme, and a 15oz can crushed tomatoes. Add 2 Tablespoons chicken broth and a dash or 10 of Cajun seasoning then simmer the sauce for 15 minutes.
Once the peppers are tender, plate ’em up then top with the sauce. Easy as that!
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Dirty Rice Stuffed Peppers with Red Sauce
Dirty Rice Stuffed Peppers with Red Sauce are healthy and satisfying!
- 4 medium-sized green bell peppers, sliced in half, seeds and ribs removed
- 2-1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 14oz Andouille sausage, diced
- 3 ribs celery, diced and divided
- 3/4 yellow onion, chopped and divided
- 3 garlic cloves, minced and divided
- Cajun seasoning
- 1 cup white rice
- 2 cups + 2 Tablespoons chicken broth
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1 small bay leaf
- 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
- 15oz can crushed tomatoes
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees then arrange bell pepper halves in the bottom of a 9x13” baking dish sprayed lightly with nonstick spray. Lightly spray bell pepper halves with nonstick spray then set aside.
- Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat then add sausage, and 2/3 of both the celery and onion. Season with Cajun seasoning then saute until vegetables are tender, 8-10 minutes, turning heat down if vegetables begin to burn. Add 2/3 of the minced garlic then saute for 1 more minute. Add rice, 2 cups chicken broth, and more Cajun seasoning to taste then turn heat up to bring broth to a boil. Place a lid on top then turn heat down and simmer until rice has absorbed all the broth and is tender, 15-20 minutes. Stir in parsley.
- Scoop rice mixture inside bell pepper halves then cover baking dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Turn heat up to 400 then remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes, or until peppers are crisp tender.
- Meanwhile, heat remaining 1-1/2 Tablespoons oil in a saucepan over medium heat then add remaining onion and celery. Season with Cajun seasoning to taste then saute until vegetables are soft, 10 minutes, turning heat down slightly if vegetables begin to burn. Add remaining garlic then saute for one more minute. Add bay leaf, thyme, remaining 2 Tablespoons chicken broth, and crushed tomatoes then turn heat up to bring mixture to a bubble. Turn heat down to medium-low then simmer, partially covered or topped with a splatter screen, for 10 minutes. Taste then adjust seasonings if necessary. Plate peppers then top with sauce and serve.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
This garden-fresh meal is perfect for the summer – enjoy the stuffed peppers hot or warm, and al fresco, if you can swing it. :) As always, I hope you enjoy!