I love stuffed peppers. It was one of my mother’s best dishes. We seemed to have it quite a bit this time of year when I was growing up. This is the time of summer when pepper plants are yielding a big harvest, and cooks are looking for recipes using peppers.
Last weekend I was shopping Kent farmer’s market and came upon the most beautiful cubanelle peppers. Cubanelles are sweet, long tapered peppers that are variants of red or pale green or yellow. They make a colorful and delicious dish. I decided to take my mother’s stuffed pepper recipe and make it band and Roux-en-Y friendly and healthier. My mom always used green bell peppers. This was not going to be my mother’s peppers.
I first substituted extra lean ground turkey breast for the ground pork. Read the nutrition labels when buying ground turkey. If it isn’t boneless, skinless turkey breast, the fat and calorie count could be high. Next I had to replace the rice with something more gastric friendly. I used my good friend the summer squash. This is an excellent way to add moisture and lighten ground meat in any recipe. The purpose of rice or the grated squash is to loosen the meat mixture. I have seen too many stuffed peppers and cabbage rolls that have meat center as heavy as a stone. It is very important to add moisture and lighter texture to the meat mixture. That is also why there is some sauce in the peppers.
Since I work and wanted results faster than simmering or baking them a few hours, I used my crock pot. I love slow cooking. It results in a moist dish with the flavors simmered into the meat. It was perfect for this recipe. The moment I came through the door tonight I was taken by that delicious aroma. This recipe yields 6-8 generous servings.
2 lbs. ground turkey breast
1 small summer squash or zucchini, peeled and shredded
1 large onion chopped fine
2 tsp. salt (divided)
1 tsp. pepper (divided)
6-8 fresh green peppers of your choice
1 28 oz. can tomato sauce
1 TBS. chopped garlic
1 TBS flour
In a small bowl, stir together tomato sauce, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper and chopped garlic. Shred squash and finely chop onion. Mix ground turkey, shredded squash, chopped onion, ½ cup of tomato sauce, 1 tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. pepper together. Cut tops off of peppers, clean out insides, retain tops. Stuff the peppers with the meat mixture. Make large meatballs with the remaining meat mixture.
Lightly spray the inside of a slow cooker with non-stick spray. Arrange stuffed peppers and meatballs in the cooker. Pour remaining tomato sauce over peppers. Cover and cook on low for at least 8 hours.
1 hour before serving, whisk together 1 TBS. flour and about ½ cup of hot liquid from the slow cooker to make a thickening. Gently stir into the slow cooker. Cover and allow to cook for an additional hour.