Stuffed peppers

An easy to make winter favouriteWhen the mercury drops, it’s time to savour slow-cooked stuffed peppers. My husband craves them. Friends always ask for the recipe. It’s a snap. I mix equal parts of a good spicy sausage and rinsed basmati rice. Use any sausage you like: turkey, pork, or even veggie – but make it spicy. I use long green Cubanelle peppers, but I have used long thin red ones and sweet bell peppers too. Please yourself. They are all tasty and healthful!

One package of hot Italian sausage links, or whatever you like that is spicy, but not breakfast sausage. This recipe uses an average package of sausage, which contains about six links. Otherwise, buy the same amount of bulk sausage. You will have to remove the sausage from the casing to make the filling.
1 to 1¼ cup of washed basmati rice, or any long-grained rice.
Cumin gives the sauce a smoky taste and the chilies a hit of spice, but you can leave them out if you want a milder dish.
Vegetarian variation: Try this using a soy-based sausage, or simply substitute two cups of grated vegetarian cheese, or two cups of cooked mashed beans that have been seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. To either the beans or cheesy rice, add one tsp. cumin and one crushed clove of garlic. Check when you are baking the dish, as you may want to add more liquid.
Stuff six to seven good-sized Cubanelle peppers. Cubanelles are long, thin, and not hot. They’re usually green, but lately we have found a red, sweet pepper that has the same shape. You can also use bell peppers, if you prefer, but cubanelle peppers are delicious and usually cheaper.
Wash and dry the peppers. Cut of the tops in a single slice and reserve. Pull out and discard seeds and ribs, and stuff the peppers. Place tops on stuffed peppers in pan.
Sweat one large diced onion with 1 tsp. of chili flakes or 2 if you like things spicy, or omit it, if you don’t.
Add 2 tsp. of cumin
Puree or crush 3 cloves of garlic into a large can of tomatoes, and add it to the onion with 1 tbsp. of sugar or 1 pkg. Splenda. Simmer for 10 minutes and add salt to taste.
Add 1 can of water, and simmer for five minutes. The sauce will be watery, but you need the water to cook the rice.
Put the peppers in a covered baking dish that will just hold the sauce and peppers, or use a pot that goes in the oven. If you don’t have a covered dish that’s the right size, use foil to seal your pan. Cover the peppers with a tight-fitting lid and bake in a slow oven, 275F/140C for three-and-a-half hours. You may also make it in a crock pot. Follow the directions.  Placing an old flat baking sheet under the pan can help keep your oven clean.