Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Remember the days of the electric skillet? Yea, verily: that ubiquitous fixture of the 1970s countertop, rendered in shades of avocado, russet, and harvest gold, within whose Teflon innards dinner bubbled away to the televised accompaniment of Mike Douglas or the 5 o'clock news! In my house, the skillet was a rusty red, and seemed always to hold one of the following: chicken cacciatore, pork chops "hunter style," or stuffed peppers (all of which featured tomato sauce, onions, and rather-less-than-expensive meat). Of the three, the peppers were my hands-down favorite, partly because they were always served with rice, which was unusual in our potato-centric family. Recently, when trying to use up perishables before going away for a few weeks, I realized that my refrigerator held all the necessary ingredients to recreate this childhood classic (aside from the hamburger component of Mom's version, obviously). I can't remember the last time I saw an electric skillet, but the aroma of these peppers baking away in the oven managed to bring me right back to a rainy afternoon in my parents' kitchen.
~ 4 large bell peppers (green, red, yellow, you choose)
~ 1 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 2 cups chopped onion
~ 1 cup each: diced carrot, chopped yellow summer squash
~ 1 tsp. each: kosher salt, oregano, basil, thyme, parsley
~ Fresh black pepper
~ 1/2 cup fresh, chopped parsley
~ 1 28 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
~ 12 oz. veggie crumbles or similar; I mashed up a package of Trader Joe's meatless meatballs
~ 1 quart red sauce (marinara, or whatever you like)
~ In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions. Saute for 3 minutes.
~ Add the garlic, carrots, squash, and dried seasonings; stir to combine and cook another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
~ Add the parsley, tomatoes, and veggie crumbles or meatballs. Combine thoroughly and cover. Reduce heat to low and cook about 10 minutes.
~ Pour in 2 cups of the red sauce, raise heat to medium, and cook uncovered another 10-15 minutes, until you get a sloppy-joe-like texture. Remove from heat and set aside.
~ Now, for the peppers! Cut the peppers in half, rinse and seed thoroughly.
~ In a large pot, bring about 6 cups of water to a boil. Once it's boiling, drop the peppers in and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from water with tongs and set aside to cool.
~ Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
~ Coat a casserole dish with cooking spray and spread a thin layer of red sauce over the bottom.
~ Arrange the pepper halves snugly in the pan, then fill (generously!) with the veggie mixture.
~ Pour the remaining sauce over the filled peppers and bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then raise the heat to 450 for another 15 minutes, or until browned and bubbling.
~ Serve with rice, or pasta, and additional sauce if you like.