- 1 pound 90% lean ground beef (preferably grass- fed)
- 1 tablespoon extra- virgin olive oil
- 1 cup very finely chopped cauliflower florets (you can use store-bought cauliflower rice if you like!)
- 2 medium carrots, minced (about ½ cup minced carrot)
- 1 celery rib, minced (about ¼ cup minced celery)
- ½ medium yellow onion, minced
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (I like San Marzano.)
- 2½ teaspoons dried oregano, divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the bell peppers
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (depending on your heat preference)
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped, plus extra for serving
- 5 large bell peppers (any color will do!)
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ¾ cup shredded part- skim mozzarella cheese
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup low-sodium beef or chicken broth (water will also do.)
Stuffed with lean Bolognese filling and topped with a bubbling layer of melted cheese, these brightly colored bad boys are feel-good comfort food at its finest. I sneaked in an extra serving of vegetables in the form of finely chopped (and virtually undetectable) cauliflower, but feel free to throw in a couple of handfuls of baby spinach if you’re feeling particularly ambitious on the health front. The bolognese filling can also be served over whole-grain pasta, zucchini noodles, or your go-to whole grain, or used as the base for a lightened-up lasagna. Got leftovers? #putaneggonit
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the ground beef to the pan and cook for about 6 minutes, stirring the meat and breaking it up into small pieces with a spatula, until completely browned. Drain the meat in a mesh colander (just like pasta!) To get rid of excess grease. Briefly set aside.
3. Wipe out the skillet and return it to the stove over medium heat. Add the oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add the cauliflower, carrots, celery, on- ion, and garlic and cook for about 8 minutes, until the vegetables have softened. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute just to mellow its acidity. Return the beef to the pan, then stir in the crushed tomatoes, 2 teaspoons of the oregano, the salt, and crushed red pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Turn off the heat and stir in the basil.
4. Meanwhile, slice the bell peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and any white membrane. Arrange the pepper halves in an extra- large baking dish. (if you don’t have a baking dish large enough, go ahead and use two baking dishes.) Season the inside of each pepper half with a tiny bit of salt and black pepper.
5. In a small bowl, combine the mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and the remaining ½ teaspoon oregano.
6. Spoon the filling into each of the pepper halves and top with the cheese mixture. Pour the broth into the bottom of the baking dish(es) and cover the dish(es) tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the peppers are just tender. (I prefer a tiny bit of bite to my peppers for texture, but if you dig softer peppers, bake them for an extra 10 minutes or so.) If you’d like to brown the tops of your peppers, pop them under the broiler for a few minutes before serving.
7. Serve the stuffed peppers warm with a sprinkling of basil.