My daughter, Emily, is on a special diet because she is insulin resistant. She has been finding interesting ways to satisfy her cravings for certain foods like lasagna since she can’t eat pasta. The idea of cutting pasta out of my life makes my brain scream. No PASTA!?! So when she finds interesting idea on Pinterest she sends them my way. The pin for sweet bell peppers stuffed with lasagna ingredients (minus the pasta) caught my attention.
Sweet bell peppers (orange, red, and yellow) get high ratings in the Castle. I love them more than green bell peppers. The green ones taste like blades of grass that have stood in the sun too long. Don’t ask me how I know that. Creative childhood. But the peppers were on sale this week at one of the grocery chains for only 99 cents! I screamed out loud because I paid $2.49 for the last two I bought three days ago. Drat!
My P.S. (Produce Shopper/ hubby) brought home a dozen more sweet bell peppers and I was ready to invent new ways to use them. First off, making them glorious little vessels for lasagna. I imagined them oozing with cheeses.
I looked up my recipe for the ricotta filling. I’d already blogged that when I made the Birthday Lasagna. I cut the recipe in half and still had leftovers after filling 6 pepper halves with lasagna. I used a small tub of ricotta, an egg, a tablespoon of dried parsley, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. I mixed well and added 1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan. One filling done!
I had been browning about a pound of ground beef in a skillet. When it was browned I added tomato sauce.
I am embarrassed to admit I used a canned spaghetti sauce to add to my browned ground beef. It was a hand me down from someone who wasn’t going to use it. I waste nothing, and figured I could doctor it to my taste. This I did by added a teaspoon of fennel that I’d ground up in a mortar and pestle. It doesn’t grind very well but I wanted it a little finer.
I let my meat sauce bubble away and reduce down a bit until it was fragrant and thick. My meat filling was done!
I enlisted the help of my P.S. to clean and halve the peppers. He was hungry wanted to eat sooner and the answer to that was to put him to work so it would get into the oven quicker. He did a great job, leaving the stems on just for the looks!
I put a large tablespoon of ricotta filling into each pepper half. I added meat filling until it was even to the top.
I put a dollop of ricotta on the top and a handful of mozzarella. When all of the peppers were filled and laid into a baking pan I’d lined with foil, I sprinkled more parsley on top. To be pretty.
The pan of stuffed peppers went into a 400°F oven for 30 minutes. When the timer buzzed they were already gorgeous. I gave the peppers 10 more minutes to finish baking and turn a little more golden.
We had the peppers for dinner and mmm hmmm.. they were wonderful. I liked that the peppers were still a bit crunchy but oozing with melted cheese. What a great contrast! If you prefer the peppers a little softer, you could blanch them or prebake them. Like I said, we liked the crunch. The flavors worked so well together. I’ve always liked sweet bell peppers diced into my spaghetti or lasagna sauces. This worked well for me.
I think these would freeze well, either before baking or after. It depends on how fast you want to eat them out of the freezer. Even if they were prebaked they might heat well in the oven or in a dry skillet with a cover. I might need to do another batch just to see. Cuz you know I do have all those peppers in the fridge. And some leftover ricotta and meat filling as well!
Lasagna Stuffed Peppers
1# ground beef
24 ounce can Hunt’s Pasta Sauce (or your own sauce)
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds; crushed
15 ounce tub ricotta
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Parmesan; shredded
3 sweet bell peppers; halved and cleaned out
2 cups mozzarella; shredded
pinches of dried parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a large nonstick skillet brown beef and break into small pieces. Add sauce and simmer for 15-20 minutes to reduce and thicken.
In a bowl mix ricotta, egg, parsley, garlic powder and salt. Stir in Parmesan.
Prepare a baking pan by lining with foil. Fill pepper halves with 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture. Add meat mixture to top of pepper. Top with a tablespoon of ricotta and cover with mozzarella, about 1/4 cup per pepper. Place in baking pan. Sprinkle tops with another pinch of dried parsley.
Bake for 30 minutes in preheated oven. Check and bake for 10-15 minutes more until cheese is browned. Serve hot.