1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon Italian Seasoning herb blend
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
6 bell peppers, any color
8-ounce package of cooked brown rice or 1 ½ cups of cooked brown rice
14-ounce can of kidney or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup tomato sauce (or 1-8 ounce can)
½ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
¼ cup chopped black olives, optional
½ cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish if desired
6 ounces of Fontina cheese, grated
- Simply heat the olive oil in a skillet, add in the onion and garlic and add some salt. Sauteeing the onion with salt helps them to release their liquid which will help them soften before they brown. Before you take the onion and garlic off the stove, add in the spices. I used a blend of Italian Seasoning herb blend and fennel seeds. Adding the spices to the onions and garlic in the oil allows them to wake up and will make them more flavorful.
- Scrape the onion mixture into a mixing bowl.
- Cut the top off the peppers removing the stem and a small amount of edible pepper. (Save the edible portion and add to a salad.) Cut around the core and then pull out the core and seeds. If the pepper doesn’t stand upright, you may have to level it by slicing a small amount off the bottom of the pepper. Try not to cut through the bottom of the pepper though so the filling can’t fall out the bottom!
- Place the peppers in a microwave-safe casserole dish and add 1/2 cup water. Cover with parchment and then plastic wrap. Microwave for 6 to 7 minutes until the peppers are softened but not collapsing.
- Combine the cooked onion, garlic, and spice mixture with the beans. Add in the cooked rice (I used a package of pre-cooked brown rice.) Add tomato sauce. (A small 8-ounce can is the perfect amount.)
- Add in cherry tomatoes, olives, and basil. Take the shredded Fontina cheese, and divide it visually in half (it doesn’t have to be exact.) Stir half of it into the filling. This will help the filling to stick together and give it a creamier texture too.
- Be careful when you remove the plastic from the peppers, there may be some steam trapped in there that will try to sneak out and burn you. Make sure there isn’t any water in the bottom of the peppers, just tip them out with tongs if you see any water in the bottom. It is okay if there is still water in the casserole dish. This will help them steam and cook. Return/keep the peppers in the casserole dish, because they will continue cooking in the dish in the next step.
- Use a large spoon to scoop the filling into the peppers, dividing evenly among the six hollowed-out, par-cooked peppers. Take the rest of the shredded Fontina and pile it on top of the peppers.
- To finish the dish, simply transfer the casserole back to the microwave and cook on high power for 3 to 4 minutes. Microwave ovens vary in power so you may have to adjust the amount of cooking time up or down depending on your individual microwave oven.
- Top the peppers with chopped red onion and more basil. Serve hot!
Credits: Healthy Seasonal Recipes