Stuffed peppers are a great way to take advantage of seasonal buys and leftovers. Add a handful of mushrooms to this recipe and try different meats.

3 large green bell peppers

Stuffing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, preferably sweet
2 ripe tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
1 pound ground meat
1 cup rice
2 teaspoons basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly cracked and ground

Sauce:
1 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350°.

Wash the peppers, cut in half and remove the seeds.

Clean and chop the onion into fairly fine pieces. Wash and remove the core from the tomatoes; chop coarsely. Clean and mince the garlic.

Stuffing:
Sauté the chopped onion in the olive oil; allow to cool slightly. Lightly brown the ground meat, drain fat and allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl combine the onion, tomato, garlic, ground meat, rice, basil, oregano, salt and pepper and mix well. Distribute the filling evenly between the pepper halves.

Place the peppers in a shallow baking dish.

Sauce:
Combine the tomato sauce, vinegar, sugar and chicken broth. Pour the sauce into the bottom of the baking pan with the stuffed peppers.

Cover and bake for approximately 30 minutes. Uncover, baste with pan sauce and bake for 15 – 30 minutes more, until the rice is cooked. Watch carefully once you’ve uncovered the dish; you don’t want to overcook the peppers or they will fall apart and become bitter.

Yield: 6 servings.

Tip 1: I easily slice and remove seeds from bell peppers by placing the pepper, top down, on a cutting board. I slice through the bottom until I reach resistance from the stem. I then pick the pepper up and slice the flesh to the stem on each side and carefully pry the pepper open. One side of the pepper will release from the stem. You can then pare the stem away from the other side. Most of the seeds adhere to the heart of the stem, though you may find a few clinging to the veins.

Tip 2: Picking up an oversized roast on sale frequently can yield several meals. I often use my food processor to grind meat for a variety of uses. I love being able to control the texture.

Chill the meat and cut into 2 – 3 inch thick pieces up to 4 inches long. Fit your processor bowl with the blade attachment. Add 3 – 4 pieces of meat and place the lid on the machine. Pulse the meat until it is ground to the texture you want. Do not add liquids or you will end up with puree.

I like a fairly coarse grind for stuffed peppers and chili, and nearly pureed pork for won tons. Roasts are often available for less than $2.00 a pound. Using your food processor to grind meats can add up to significant savings. Spending wisely is never cheap.

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