Fiesta Stuffed Peppers

One of the vegetables I like to grow in my garden is bell peppers. I generally like to raise an assortment of them, but mostly they’re the green and red variety.

One of the things I like to do with my peppers is stuff and bake them. I have a pretty basic recipe but always am on the lookout for new ones.

That brings me to the following recipe, which was sent to me by a friend and former co-worker, Steve Schmidt. Schmidty, as we called him when he was in Grand Forks, was a reporter at the Herald for several years before moving to the Twin Cities area, where he’s been teaching Spanish.

Steve recently e-mailed me to say he and his wife, Karen, were moving to Georgia. It seems she was transferred to the home office of Home Depot in Atlanta, where she’ll join a new human resources management team.

Along with the news, Schmidty sent me a "fantástico" recipe for stuffed peppers, which he promised me last year. He said the recipe was inspired by a stuffed pepper lunch made for him by a Minnesota teaching colleague and friend, Fred Yacono of Eagan, Minn. Fred taught music across the hall from Steve’s Spanish classroom for one year at St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Savage, Minn. Steve said Fred’s mother cooked peppers often in his home state of New York.

The recipe contains a lot of interesting ingredients, including ground turkey breast, balsamic vinegar (one of my favorites), Worchestershire sauce, sweet vermouth and a variety of herbs and spices.

I can’t wait to try the recipe!

Fiesta Stuffed Peppers
4 large green or red bell peppers
1 to 1¼ pounds ground turkey breast
1 small onion, chopped
½ to 1 cup bulgur wheat
Bread crumbs or rice (optional)
1 to 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan and mozzarella cheese
1½ teaspoons dried basil leaves (or more if using fresh)
1 teaspoon dried parsley
¾ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
¼ pepper to taste
8-ounce can of tomato sauce
3 to 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice or juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 to ¼ cup sweet vermouth
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar or honey
To make meat mixture: Cover bulgur wheat with water and let stand 20 to 30 minutes.
Saute onion in ½ to 1 tablespoon of olive oil for about 3 minutes, then add ground turkey to brown.
While turkey is browning, drain bulgur wheat, and in a large bowl add up to ½ cup of bread crumbs or cooked rice if desired.
Then add 1 to 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, grated Parmesan, 1 teapoon basil, parsley and ½ teaspoon garlic powder. Stir into ground turkey and onion mixture. Add sweet vermouth and refrigerate one hour.
To make sauce, in a small bowl, mix together the following ingredients:
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (the vinegar and olive oil can be whisked before adding the rest), tomato sauce, sugar or honey, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce ½ teaspoon dried basil leaves, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, salt and pepper.
To prepare stuffed peppers, remove tops and membranes from four large bell peppers (or five smaller). Arrange them on a baking dish or pan and add the meat mixture. Then spoon the sauce into each pepper. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
Remove peppers from oven. Turn the oven to broiling temperature. Add 1 tablespoon of grated or shredded Parmesan cheese to the top of each pepper. Return to oven and broil 5 minutes.
Remove peppers from oven. Reduce temperature to 400. Sprinkle peppers with grated or shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake 5 to 10 minutes or more or until cheese begins to turn toasty brown. Cool 10 minutes and serve.