They say there’s a story behind every recipe and these peppers are no exception to that rule. After somehow deleting all of the photos I’d taken of these little beauties the first time I’d made them, I was consequently forced to make them again for this story. This would’ve been far more unfortunate had they not been so simple to prepare and so extremely delicious. I can attest to their robust flavor as I sit here eating one for lunch while writing this post.
Pizza inside a pepper – who would’ve thought? Not I. But they are certainly the best stuffed pepper I’ve ever tried.
On top of requiring minimal ingredients and coming together in about 40 minutes tops, they’re much healthier than eating an actual pizza. This is because a fiber-loaded bell peppers replaces the crust, and little whole grain bread cubes step in to mimic that “crunch” a thin crust pizza would have.
This recipe calls for turkey sausage. We subbed chicken sausage and they turned out great. However, to make them vegetarian simply sub hearty mushrooms for the meat. To take it one step further and make these vegan, simply omit the cheese or replace it with a dairy-free cheese alternative. Seeing as the roasted bell peppers and tomato sauce provide much of the flavor anyway, the meat and cheese are certainly optional.
These peppers would make a healthy week night dinner, but we can’t help but suggest they’d make the perfect entree or snack for the big bowl game this Sunday. Ravens and 49ers fans alike would love to bite into these healthy, satisfying peppers that mock all of the flavors of pizza yet boast a fraction of the calories. That’s a pizza re-make we can get behind.
Sausage Pizza Stuffed Peppers
serves 6 | vegan/vegetarian optional
6 medium bell peppers (red, yellow, orange, green or a combination)
2 cups whole grain bread cubes (preferably Italian bread)
3 links (10 oz.) Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 ¾ cups Pizza Sauce
¾ cup reduced-fat 4 cheese Italian cheese blend
Dried oregano (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Coat a baking dish large enough to hold the peppers with nonstick cooking spray.
- Cut tops off peppers and pull out seeds. Put peppers into baking dish. Take stems off pepper tops, then coarsely chop tops (you should have about 2 cups) set aside to use in filling.
- Spread bread cubes on a baking sheet. Coat peppers with nonstick spray. Put peppers and bread in oven. Take bread out after 5 minutes or until lightly toasted. Leave peppers in 25 minutes longer or until tender.
- Meanwhile, to make filling, cook sausage, onion and chopped pepper tops in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, until sausage is cooked through and onion and pepper are tender, about 12 minutes.
- Stir in 1 cup of the pizza sauce. Remove from heat and stir in ½ cup of the cheese and 1 cup of the bread cubes.
- If excess moisture is in the well of the peppers, use tongs to flip and drain. Then fill peppers with mixture. Top with remaining bread cubes and sprinkle with mozzarella and sprinkle with dried oregano if desired.
- Bake 8 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve with remaining sauce.
Estimated nutrition per pepper: 230 calories, 9 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 17 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 42 mg cholesterol, 702 mg sodium
No matter which team you’re cheering on this weekend, be sure to include these colorful guys in your game day spread. They’ll be the one thing everyone can agree on regardless of who takes home the big prize.
January 28th, 2013