Lately my friendly neighborhood Safeway has been surprising me with some of their sales. Of course, I can still beat most of their prices by going to different stores, but some of their weekly specials have been pretty amazing: blackberries at 10 boxes for $10; avocados for a buck a-piece or less; medium raw shrimp for just $4.99/lb; in short, they’re really stepping up their game when it comes to their Club Card specials, and it’s working, because it makes me go there more often than I normally would. Over the nice weekend, I stopped by for cat provisions, inexpensive blackberries, and something I haven’t had in a long time: fresh red bell peppers, just $0.99/lb.
Now, I normally like to get most of my produce from the farmer’s market, but with the freaky weather (65 degrees & rainy at the end of MAY??? C’mon, Mother Nature!) two things have happened: stuff that should be growing in abundance right now is not, and I just refuse to go traipsing about in blustery weather if I don’t have to (I’m fairly certain I was a cat in a former life; hate being wet). My freezer’s been stocked with plenty of good frozen veggies & fruits so I’ve made due that way, but I have really missed getting the good, fresh stuff. True, the cheap bell peppers came from Mexico, but it was sure nice to enjoy the crisp sweetness of a fresh one once more. And the two that I got were so lovely, that I knew I couldn’t just hack them up into little pieces. Their aesthetics also had to be enjoyed, and the best way I felt I could do that was to use them as natural dishware and stuff ‘em with something delicious.
Stuffed pepper recipes are all over the place and usually consist of a lot of ground beef, bread crumbs and cheese. Not a bad combo taste-wise, but I do prefer to have color in my food and didn’t want something that heavy & rich. Instead, I used some brown rice, lean steak, and some nice red & green veggies for a nice contrast. The end result was a beautiful, completely satisfying meal with hardly any clean-up because I got to eat the “bowl”! :) Seriously though, this is a wonderful dish to prepare for a nice twist on dinner, and though I made mine from scratch, this is a fabulous way to make use of leftover rice and meat, not to mention all those tiny bags of leftover veggies that may be lurking in your fridge or freezer. Paired with a nice salad and a glass of wine, this can also be a different, slightly elegant way to end a hard workday without having to break the bank.
Steak, Brown Rice & Veggie Stuffed Peppers (serves 2; total cost per serving: ~ $2.85)
1 c cooked brown rice
6 oz. lean steak, diced
1/2 c frozen peas, thawed
1/2 c frozen broccoli florets, thawed
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 c diced yellow onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t smoked paprika (regular paprika is also fine)
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t salt
Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare a small, shallow baking dish with a very light coating of cooking spray and set aside. Rinse the bell peppers and pat dry gently with a paper towel. Slice off just the very top of the pepper and remove the seeds & veins. Take the “lid” of the pepper and cut off the remaining flesh, dicing into small pieces. Set aside with the rest of the veggies.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the minced garlic and onion. Sauté over medium heat until fragrant, then add the diced steak and all the seasonings. Cook for about 2 minutes or until the steak begins to brown (don’t overcook as this will continue cooking in the oven!). Add the diced peppers, tomatoes, peas, broccoli and rice, and stir together until completely combined. Check for seasonings and adjust accordingly with salt & pepper. Cook for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Spoon a generous amount of the rice, steak & veggie mixture into each pepper until completely full (go ahead, pack it in!). Place the stuffed peppers in the prepped baking dish, tent with foil, and place in the oven. Cook for about 30 minutes and remove from the oven. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Serve with a nice salad, and enjoy!