With the New Year upon us many folks are making resolutions to eat healthier. Here's a great (gluten-free) recipe which is very versatile and very simple! You can leave off the cheese so it's vegan or add meat if you think it needs to be a bit more filling (although it really stands on its own as a meatless dish).
Stuffed Bell Peppers
4 bell peppers (red or green), halved lengthwise, seeds removed.**(see note near bottom if you do not have enough bell peppers on hand)
3 TBSP olive oil
4 tsp red wine vinegar
3 cups spaghetti sauce (or 1 jar, 24-25 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup rice (you could use couscous if gluten isn't a problem)
Minced garlic (As much as you like... and we like a lot!)
1 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup grated Italian cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 450F
Toss bell pepper halves with 2 TBSP olive oil and about 1/2 tsp salt. Microwave for about 6-8 minutes until peppers are slightly softened.
In the bottom of a 8x12 casserole dish whisk together remaining olive oil, 1 tsp red wine vinegar, tomato sauce, water, minced garlic and a generous amount of Italian seasoning.
Place softened pepper halves in the dish.
In a bowl, mix together spaghetti sauce, rice, 3 tsp vinegar, chopped parsley and about 1/4 tsp salt. Sprinkle in some Parmesan and 1/4 cup grated cheese if you desire.
Fill peppers overflowing with rice/sauce mixture and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
COVER (with foil if your dish does not have a lid) and bake for about 25-30 minutes. Rice should be tender.
Serve piping hot! (I like to drizzle a little of the "runny sauce" from the bottom of the dish over the plates before piling on the stuffed bell pepper.)
Note: Be extremely careful when removing the lid/cover because the dish will release a lot of steam.
Generally, we serve each person two bell peppers, so I would say this dish serves about 4 adults when used as a main dish. (Or, two adults can eat two, and four children can each have one- which is what we did.)
Add leftover (cooked) ground beef or Italian ground sausage (even 1/4-1/2 a cup will do).
Throw in finely chopped onions and other vegetables into the rice/sauce mixture
Make extras and freeze (cooked) for later.
**If you do not have enough bellpeppers, consider chopping up the peppers you do have and mixing all ingredients in a 8x8 dish. Add 1/4 cup more water, 1/4 teaspoon more salt, and 1/4 cup more rice, then add cheese to the top, cover and bake for 25-35 minutes.
(By the way- this is a great recipe for kids to help with!)