Terrific recipe from my friend Gloria from the gym. She was making a copy of the recipe for her daughter-in-law and made an extra copy for me and surprised me with it one day recently while I was working out. Although I had never prepared a dish with bell peppers being the focus, this was so good that I quickly added it to my regular recipes that I’ll prepare often. Although the recipe calls for using one half lb ground pork and one half lb lean ground beef, you could easily substitute ground turkey or ground chicken instead of the pork and beef. It’s not an extremely complicated recipe but there are a number of steps so always try to be one step ahead and have things chopped and ready to go. Well worth the effort.
1 (15-ounce) can of tomato sauce
1/2 lb each lean ground beef and ground pork (can substitute ground turkey or chicken)
4 medium-sized bell peppers (I use red but green would be fine)
1 six-ounce bag stemmed fresh spinach
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, minced and divided (I zested the garlic instead)
1 medium onion chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided (I used less and it was fine)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook tomato sauce, parsley, red pepper flakes and 1/3 of garlic in saucepan over medium-high heat until boiling, then reduce and simmer for 10 or 15 minutes. Set aside.
Cook chopped onion and remaining garlic in half a Tbsp of olive oil on medium high heat in large skillet, stirring often, for two or three minutes until onions begin to brown.
Add the ground meats and cook on medium high, stirring often, for six to eight minutes or until meat is no longer pink.
Drain the meat well and set aside in a bowl. Wipe the skillet clean (as clean as possible) with a paper towel.
Cook spinach in half a Tbsp of hot oil over low heat until spinach is wilted (this happens fast). Remove skillet from heat and turn burner off.
Stir the meat, sauce, basil and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan in with the spinach.
Cut peppers in half lengthwise, discarding seeds and membranes (if doing this for the first time, stand at kitchen sink and hold the pepper half under running water to dislodge the seeds and use your fingers or a knife to remove the membranes).
Dry off pepper halves with paper towel. Drizzle a little olive oil in each pepper half and season with salt and pepper. Spoon meat mixture into lightly greased 8-in square baking dish (or as you can see from my efforts, any sized baking dish that works or two if necessary).
Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Then uncover, sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and return to oven for 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool for five minutes before serving.