Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Stuffed Cubanelle Peppers

With the Autumn chill in the air over the weekend, there was just one thing, but one thing to do with those Cubanelle peppers from last week's share...stuff them.  My Mama's stuffed peppers are one of my all-time favorite comfort foods, which is odd because until  I was in high school I hated the taste of the cooked pepper, so she always made some sans pepper so I could have a meatball and sauce.  Which means today I'm completely incapable of making a small batch of stuffed peppers without having also enough meatballs to feed about 3-4 other people.  Come to my apartment, I'll be like the old lady from the Wedding Singer just doling out meatballs into your hands!  And since Cubanelle's are much smaller than bell peppers, that means less filling and thus...more meatballs.  So if you follow this recipe to the letter, you will have PLENTY of meatballs and sauce left over for spaghetti and meatballs or for some great game day meatball subs.  And with the way the Skins have been playing...all you fans are going to need some hearty comfort food.  Oh snap!  ;)

Stuffed Cubanelle Peppers

7 Cubanelle peppers, washed, tops and seeds removed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup red wine (I used a Malbec & Cabernet red blend)

For stuffing/meatballs:
1 lb hot turkey sausage
1 lb ground turkey
1 cup dry bread crumbs (for gluten-free I used Glutino breadcrumbs which are also dairy-free!)
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp parsley (if you still have fresh or frozen herbs, I recommend using those for the herbs in this recipe)
1 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp basil
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup applesauce (I used the last of my Homemade Applesauce)

For sauce:
60 oz tomato sauce (I use Nature's Promise Organic from Giant)
12 oz tomato paste (also Nature's Promise Organic)
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp parsley
1 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp basil
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a sauce pot, mix all ingredients for sauce until fully blended, and bring to a simmer.  Depending on the tomato sauce and paste base that you use, you may wish to use more or less sugar depending on how acidic and bitter it tastes.  Cover pot to prevent sauce spurting everywhere, and simmer on low heat.

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients for the meatball mixture until all ingredients are completely combined.  The applesauce in this recipe is used in place of an egg for binding, so if you don't have applesauce on hand you can always use 1 egg.

Stuff each Cubanelle with meat mixture until coming out the end and a bit mounded.  Place into a baking dish and repeat with all peppers, making sure to form a single layer of stuffed peppers.  Pour some of the sauce over top until all the peppers are covered, and then place dish into the oven to bake at 400 degrees for about 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, turn the rest of the meat mixture into meatballs that are no bigger than the palm of your hand.  I was able to get 8 additional meatballs out of my reserve mixture.

In a skillet, heat olive oil over high heat.  One oil is hot, begin to add meatballs to skillet, making sure not to overcrowd  your pan.  Brown all meatballs on all sides to form a bit of a crust, and then transfer them to the sauce pot to finish cooking in the remaining sauce.  Stir in red wine to sauce and simmer meatballs in sauce for at least 30 minutes on medium-low heat, until meatballs are fully cooked.

To reserve for future use, I like to freeze the meatballs right in the sauce in a freezer-safe container, that way they are ready to thaw and heat to spoon over spaghetti or to use for meatball subs.  Even just the meatballs and sauce make a great dinner.  Serve with a big salad to help offset the heaviness.

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