I love multicolored stuffed peppers with meats, rice, exotic herbs and nuts. Most of the recipes I seem to crave for stuffed vegetables are middle eastern in origin. You can stuff anything with a mixture of meats and rice, cumin and coriander, pine nuts and walnuts to create a savory meal. Make this mixture and fill delicate grape leaves, hollowed out zucchini, tomatoes or peppers.
Last week, I was longing for my mom’s old fashioned stuffed green bell peppers that I always called Creole stuffed bell peppers. Why Creole? I don’t know. Maybe because I associate them with my Creole grandmother, Gladys Toca, and New Orleans. One of my favorite meals in New Orleans was at a neighborhood restaurant called Chez Helene. I always ordered the fried chicken, stuffed bell pepper and red beans and rice plate. I think that it had a side of potato salad too. I can’t imagine that I could eat that amount of food today, but my memories of this culinary adventure at Chez Helene is recalled with great fondness. Unfortunately, as we say in New Orleans, Chez Helene, “ain’t dere no more.”
At my request, my mom would prepare these stuffed peppers for my birthday dinner every year; along with fried chicken and red beans and rice of course. It was our best attempt at duplicating Chez Helene’s kitchen at home. So I can only dream of these days past at Chez Helene and in my grandmother and my mother’s kitchen and recreate this Creole stuffed bell pepper recipe to share with you.
Begin by slicing the peppers in half so that they are almost open faced. I use lean ground beef which has been sautéed and drained. You can use cooked brown rice or white rice or even farro or quinoa or other grains to combine with the meat for the stuffing. All ingredients are cooked ahead and then stuffed into the pepper. This makes it an easy do ahead meal. Just pop the peppers in the oven about 40 minutes before serving and you have a hearty main course. I would skip the fried chicken and red beans! The peppers will satisfy you, for sure 😉
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