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Stuffed Pepper Casserole

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Flavorful and Wholesome: Mastering the Art of Stuffed Pepper Casserole

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Delve into a world of savory goodness with our Stuffed Pepper Casserole recipe. Packed with vibrant flavors and wholesome ingredients, this dish is a delightful twist on the classic stuffed pepper recipe. Whether you’re looking for a hearty weeknight meal or a crowd-pleasing dish for gatherings, this casserole is sure to impress. Join us as we explore the step-by-step process of creating this flavorful masterpiece that will leave your taste buds begging for more.

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Ingredients:

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Main Ingredients:

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  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey or ground chicken or lean ground beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 12 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can (15 ounces) fire roasted diced tomatoes in their juices
  • 1 can (8 ounces) no salt added tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese (use Monterey jack or mozzarella for a milder flavor); or substitute additional cheddar

For serving:

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  • Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • Greek yogurt

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the Base:
    • Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray or olive oil.
    • In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey (or preferred protein) and diced onions. Cook until the meat is browned and onions are softened, breaking up the meat with a spoon as it cooks.
    • Stir in Italian seasoning, ground cumin, kosher salt, ground pepper, and minced garlic. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  2. Incorporate Vegetables and Rice:
    • Add thawed chopped spinach, diced red bell pepper, and diced green bell pepper to the skillet. Stir to combine with the meat mixture.
    • Pour in water, fire roasted diced tomatoes (with juices), tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and uncooked brown rice. Stir well to combine all ingredients evenly.
  3. Transfer to Baking Dish:
    • Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish, spreading it out evenly with a spatula or spoon.
  4. Bake the Casserole:
    • Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through and the liquid is absorbed.
  5. Add Cheese Topping:
    • Remove the foil and sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese and shredded pepper jack cheese (or preferred cheese) evenly over the top of the casserole.
  6. Finish Baking:
    • Return the uncovered casserole to the oven and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  7. Serve and Garnish:
    • Remove the casserole from the oven and let it cool slightly before serving. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, if desired. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt on the side.

Cook Notes and Variations:

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  • Customize Protein: Experiment with different proteins such as ground chicken, lean ground beef, or vegetarian options like lentils or black beans for a meatless alternative.
  • Adjust Spice Level: Increase or decrease the amount of ground cumin and red pepper flakes to adjust the spice level according to your preference.
  • Cheese Variations: Feel free to mix and match cheese varieties such as Monterey jack, mozzarella, or Mexican blend cheese for a unique flavor profile.

Keto and Low-Carb Versions:

  • Rice Substitutions: Replace the brown rice with cauliflower rice or chopped cauliflower florets for a keto-friendly option with fewer carbs.
  • Sugar-Free Sauce: Choose tomato sauce and diced tomatoes without added sugars to keep the carb count low.
  • Serve with Avocado: Add sliced avocado on top or serve alongside the casserole for extra healthy fats and flavor.

In conclusion, Stuffed Pepper Casserole is a versatile and satisfying dish that is perfect for any occasion. With its rich flavors, hearty ingredients, and easy preparation, this casserole is sure to become a staple in your recipe repertoire. Whether you’re cooking for a crowd or enjoying a cozy meal at home, this flavorful dish is bound to impress. So gather your ingredients, preheat your oven, and get ready to savor every delicious bite of this Stuffed Pepper Casserole!

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):

Q: Can I use different types of ground meat in this recipe? A: Yes, feel free to use ground turkey, ground chicken, lean ground beef, or even plant-based ground meat alternatives to suit your preferences.

Q: Can I make this casserole ahead of time? A: Absolutely! You can assemble the casserole ahead of time and refrigerate it, covered, until ready to bake. Simply adjust the baking time accordingly if the casserole is chilled.

Q: Can I freeze leftovers of this casserole? A: Yes, Stuffed Pepper Casserole freezes well. Allow the casserole to cool completely, then portion it into individual servings and freeze in airtight containers or freezer bags for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Q: Can I omit the cheese topping? A: While the cheese adds a delicious layer of flavor, you can certainly omit it if desired or substitute with a dairy-free cheese alternative for a lactose-free version of the casserole.

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