When I was a child bell peppers came in one color and during one season. Green. Summer. Occasionally someone would leave the pepper on the plant too long (or so we thought) and it would turn red. But those were very exotic.
At the Collingswood Farmers’ Market there are green, purple, and white peppers for sale right now. The red ones are coming. It may be my imagination, but I think the purple and white peppers are milder than that traditional, old style green bell pepper.
This week I stopped at Muth Organic Farm to buy their white and purple peppers. I wanted to make stuffed peppers. The peppers were beautiful and the day was certainly hot enough to qualify as summer.
I learned to make stuffed peppers from my mother. A traditional recipe to be sure. Rice, meat, onions. Stuffed in a pepper and put in a pot of tomato “sauce” and cooked on the stove top all afternoon. I loved them. But…as I grow older…this recipe is a little “harsh”.
What follows is an easy recipe that is mild and does not heat up the entire kitchen. It takes about 15 minutes to prepare and stuff the peppers and to make a “mellow” tomato sauce. Then everything is put into a slow cooker and cooked on low for 6 hours. A perfectly perfect dinner for an extremely hot summer day. While my dinner was cooking I was reading a book (…because I know you’re curious….the novel I am reading is the great historical epic Kristin Lavransdatter, set in fourteenth-century Norway, written by Nobel laureate Sigrid Undset, tells the life story of one passionate and headstrong woman. Painting a richly detailed backdrop, Undset immerses readers in the day-to-day life, social conventions, and political and religious undercurrents of the period. It is an enormous book and perfect for drowsy summer afternoons. Try it…you might like it!) … in front of an air conditioner.
Ingredients for the stuffed peppers:
a slow cooker
4 bell peppers
1/8 to 1/4 cup pearl barley
6 button type mushrooms
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 pound ground beef
salt to taste
Directions for the stuffed peppers:
1. Put the barley in a bowl and cover with water so that the water is about an inch above the barley. Let soak while you are preparing the meat mixture.
2. Cut the tops off each pepper and clean out the membrane and seeds that are inside.
3. Dice the onions and mushrooms into small pieces.
4. Melt butter in a frying pan and fry the onions and mushrooms for about 5 minutes (be careful not to burn them).
5. Drain the barley in a colander.
6. Mix together in a bowl the ground meat, onions, mushrooms, barley, cheese, and salt.
7. Stuff each cleaned out pepper.
Ingredients for the sauce:
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 can tomato soup
2 soup cans of water
2 tablespoons dried parsley
the juice of one whole lemon
1 teaspoon sugar
Directions for the sauce:
1. Mix all ingredients together and pour into slow cooker.
When the sauce is mixed and in the slow cooker, stand the stuffed peppers in the sauce in the slow cooker. The meat mixture should not be covered with the sauce. The filled peppers should be standing in the sauce.
Set the slow cooker to low for six hours.
Then go read a book.
When finished take the cooked peppers out of the slow cooker and stand up in a serving bowl. Sprinkle some more cheese on top. Serve with a bowl of the sauce on the side.
Peppers purchased from Muth Organic Farm (peppers are plentiful at the market right now)
Ground beef and cheese and butter purchased from Hillacres Pride
Onions purchased from Muth Organic Farm and ATBuzby
Mushrooms purchased from Davidson’s Exotic Mushrooms