Unstuffed bell peppers

  • Ingredients include a mixture of bell peppers, garlic and serrano pepper.

By Tom Nichols

With the Nichols family, stuffed bell peppers were one of the Big 10 recipes on our meal rotation.

Mom made them Midwest style, with ground beef, stewed tomatoes and Uncle Ben’s rice, simmered on the stove while the green peppers baked in the oven. Salt, pepper and onion powder were the only seasonings.

Stuffing was the final step.

Grandma Nichols gave the green bells an Eastern European twist, stuffing them with cabbage, rice and diced Polish sausage before baking, topping with a wonderful tomato sauce with sausage drippings.

I can’t recreate the visual appeal of tall, baked peppers in The Epic Van. Although we have an oven, it requires electricity and we seldom plug in at camp.

My unstuffed bell peppers, lower in fat and zippier in color and texture, are a worthy stove-top alternative. Note: I cook this recipe at camps lower than 5,000 feet to ensure nice rice texture.

Unstuffed bell peppers

¼ cup wild rice
1 cup long grain brown rice
1 cup tomato juice
3½ cups water
1 tablespoon concentrated vegetable stock
16 oz. extra lean ground turkey
2 red, 1 yellow and 1 green bell pepper chopped into 1 inch-squares
5 garlic cloves diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or a tablespoon of diced Serrano pepper
Salt to taste

Bring 1½ cups of water to a boil with vegetable concentrate, add wild rice, then simmer in covered pot until it is softens but is not fully cooked, about 35 minutes.

Add 2 cups of water and one cup of tomato juice to wild rice. Add brown rice, cover, reduce to lowest boil and cook for another 45 minutes. Add water if necessary to bring rice mixture to desired tenderness.

Brown ground turkey with a dash of olive oil and set aside.

Sauté peppers with olive oil, garlic and seasonings over medium heat for five minutes, then reduce to low heat until peppers are tender.

Mix rice and turkey, topping with pepper mix.

As with all Epic Van recipes, this pairs exquisitely with a pale ale.

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