The combination of green bell peppers and tomato sauce is one of my favorites. I grew up eating stuffed peppers from the slow cooker. Just the smell of this recipe cooking makes me nostalgic. My mother makes it for me just about every time I go home in the autumn or winter. During my time as a vegetarian, she made a delicious combination of rice, tofu vegetables and olives in place of the classic ground beef and rice filling. Now that I’m eating meat again, I still like to add vegetables to the filling because they pack the peppers with both nutrients and flavor.
My mom usually uses black olives. I added Manzanilla olives, stuffed with pimentos. I like the salty burst of flavor. I do know that not everyone likes these olives. You could always use black ones or just leave them out all together.
I used locally-sourced, grass-fed Charolais beef from Baldwin Family Farms in Yanceyville, NC. This producer has a score of 4 on the animal welfare rating system. It’s pretty hard to find anything above a 2, so I didn’t mine shelling out the extra $2 per pound. I’ve also driven by this idyllic farm outside of Durham many times on way due north and I admit that those cows look pretty happy. I really like to support small, family-run farms.
Stuffed Peppers with Manzanilla Olives
For the filling:
- 4 large green bell peppers
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 2 large eggs
- 1 small yellow squash, cubed
- 1 small zucchini, cubed
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- 1/2 white or yellow onion, diced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed, 1 clove reserved for sauce
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 cup manzanilla olives, whole or sliced (optional)
For the sauce:
- 2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- generous amounts of salt and pepper
- Combine together rice, beef, vegetables, olives, spices and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
- Gently beat eggs, then add to vegetable-beef-rice mixture. Stir until uniform.
- With a small knife, carefully cut a circle around the green bell pepper stem. Remove stem and using fingers, remove seeds and white insides of the pepper without creating any punctures of holes. Rinse out the remaining seeds with water.
- Stuff each pepper with beef-rice-vegetable filling.
- Place peppers in a tall stock-pot or slow cooker.
- Combine crushed tomatoes with salt, pepper, water and reserved clove of crushed garlic.
- Top peppers with tomato mixture so that they are nearly submerged.
- If cooking in slow-cooker (recommended method): Cook peppers on medium or low setting, covered, for 6-8 hours or until peppers are completely cooked and meat is no longer pink. If cooking on stove-top: Bring pot to a boil. Reduce to low heat, cover, and simmer for 1.5-2 hours until peppers are cooked throughout and meat is no longer pink. If cooking on the stovetop, be careful to periodically lift up peppers and stir the sauce at the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon so as to prevent the sauce from burning.
- Once peppers are cooked throughout (you should be able to cut the pepper with a spoon) place each pepper into a bowl and top with tomato sauce. My mom likes to serve these over mashed potatoes, but it’s satisfying (and filling) enough on its own for me!