Italian Stuffed Peppers
4 bell peppers
Extra virgin olive oil
1 cup uncooked pearl cous cous
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 lb of italian sausage (hot or sweet, your preference), removed from the casing
1-2 cups of jarred tomato sauce (Rao's is the only jarred sauce I use)
1/2 cup chopped plum tomatoes
3 tablespoons fresh parsley
3 tablespoons fresh basil
1-2 cups of parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Serving size- makes 4 stuffed peppers with a little filling left over*
Approximate time to make- 45 minutes
1. Preheat your oven to 350.
2. Cut the stems off of the bell pepper and remove the seeds & membranes. Don't discard the top of the bell pepper, simply remove the green stem and keep the rest. I keep my peppers whole, but you can slice them half lengthwise if you prefer! Place the peppers (plus the tops of the peppers) on a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Bake for 5-10 minutes, or until they start to get soft. Remove from the oven and set aside. I like my bell peppers to be on the softer side, so that's why I bake them a bit without the filling, but if you like them with more of a crunch, skip this step.
3. Next, cook your pearl cous cous according to package instructions, then set aside. I like to add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and a splash of olive oil to my cooking liquid, but that is optional! Once it's cooked, set aside.
4. Then, take out a saute pan and add the sausage to a cold pan. Bring the pan up to high heat and cook the sausage until browned, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. You don't have to cook it fully here as it'll continue cooking in the oven.
5. Time to make the filling! Take out a large bowl and add the cous cous, sausage, 1 cup of jarred tomato sauce (start with 1 cup and add more per your taste), tomatoes, parsley, basil, 1 cup of parmesan cheese, plus salt and pepper. Combine and taste for seasonings. You can add as much or as little parmesan cheese here, totally your choice!
6. To assemble, add a liberal amount of the filling to each pepper, so it's overflowing a bit. Then, top with parmesan cheese, a dollop of the ricotta and bake for 20-25 minutes.
7. Garnish with parsley and basil and enjoy!