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There are dozens of ways to make stuffed peppers and I pretty much like all of them. My favorite, of course, is the one my mother made using my grandmother’s meatball recipe. The “secret” ingredient is Locatelli cheese, a Percino Romano cheese with a sharp taste and higher price. My grandmother would accept no substitutes, though we have a few suggestions in case you can’t find it locally.
The sauce is my addition just because everyone liked tomato sauce and it was good way to get an extra vegetable in a meal. But they’re great without it and served, as my mother did, with a side of rice.
- 4 medium bell peppers any color
- 1 lb ground beef
- ¼ cup more or less to taste Locatelli cheese*
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder
- ½ cup dry bread crumbs or 1 slice of white bread
- 1 egg
- 16 ounce can chopped tomatoes including juices
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 crushed garlic clove
- 1 tablespoon Italian spice mix
- Dash of red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- All ingredients ready? Let's begin!
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Bring a pot of water larger enough to hold the peppers to a boil
- Slice tops off of peppers and core/remove seeds.
- Place in boiling water to par boil until slightly softened.
- Drain and rinse with cold water too cool.
- In a separate bowl, combine all the other ingredients. If using white bread instead of bread crumbs, lightly dampen the bread with water and tear into small pieces.
- Divide the mixture into 4 portions and fill each pepper. Depending on the size of the peppers, some of the meat mixture will be above the top of the peppers. Place the tops back on the peppers or leave them off if you prefer the meat at the top to have a crispy/browned crust.
- In a baking dish, combine the sauce ingredients.
- Place the peppers in the sauce in the backing dish.
- Bake for about 45 minutes or until internal temperature is at least 150 degrees (medium well done).
- Enjoy your Simple Stuffed Peppers (Italian Style)!
Tips & Substitutions
- Store leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. These can be frozen, but the peppers will be “mushy” when defrosted/reheated.
- *You can buy Locatelli cheese online or in Italian specialty stores. Some large grocery stores may stock it as well. If you can’t find it or don’t want to pay the higher price, use Romano cheese and add a few shakes of black pepper to punch up the taste. If you only have parmesan cheese, use one half to ⅔ cup along with ⅛ teaspoon of black pepper.
- Locatelli cheese freezes well in an air tight bag or container so you can use as needed — and get the most out of your investment!
- Green peppers are normally the least expensive but some find the flavor a little too sharp. If you prefer a sweeter taste, use red, orange or yellow peppers.
- Instead of using the included sauce recipe, feel free to used pre-made or jarred tomato sauce.
- To speed up cooking, cut the peppers in half and fill each half with the meat mixture. Since you’ll only have 4 pepper tops, cover the others with a piece of foil if you don’t want the meat to crisp. You can also bump up the temperature to 375°F which will cut baking time by about 15 minutes.