Thursday, December 6, 2012

Stuffed Peppers with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts

My Aunt Dolly makes the best stuffed peppers in the world!  She's one of those amazing Italian cooks that makes everything from scratch, never seems to have any written recipes and uses what ever she has available in the kitchen that day.  It's always " a little bit of this, a little bit of that.... throw some sauce over there, top it with some cheese"........  The outcome is always amazing.

 She cuts her peppers in half, stuffs them with raw meat and raw rice and simmers them in a skillet covered in sauce.  I love her method but because everything starts out raw, it takes a bit longer to cook. My method is a little bit quicker but I do always add her two surprise ingredients because I believe it's what makes her peppers unique and extra special.  Here is my version of Auntie Dolly's peppers.

Yield: 4 Large
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour ten minutes


4 Whole Peppers ( Largest you can find)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, Chopped
1 Clove Garlic, Chopped
1 Pound Ground Beef or (Ground Chicken, Turkey or Pork)
Salt and Pepper to Taste
4 Cups Prepared Tomato Sauce .. recipe below
1 1/2 Cups Cooked White or Brown Rice
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1/3 Cup Golden Raisins
1/3 Cup Toasted Pine Nuts (or un-Toasted)
1/2 Cup Mozzarella Cheese


For the Sauce:

4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Clove Garlic Chopped
1 32 ounce Can Ground Peeled Tomatoes (I use Pastene)
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Sugar
6 Basil Leaves, Chopped or Cut into Slivers

In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat the olive and garlic. Saute for one minute watching carefully not to burn.  Add the ground peeled tomatoes, salt, sugar and basil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 5- 8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Slice the tops off the peppers and remove seeds and ribs.  Save the tops.  In a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and chopped onion.  Saute until soft, about five minutes.  Add in the garlic and cook for an additional minute.  Add in the ground meat and cook until no longer pink, ( about 10 minutes). Drain fat and place cooked meat in a large mixing bowl.    Season with salt and pepper.  Add the cooked rice, 3/4 cups tomato sauce, 1/2 cup or Parmesan cheese, golden raisins and pine nuts.  Mix thoroughly.  Divide the mixture evenly between each pepper.  Place the four peppers in a 8 inch square pan standing up. Pour remaining sauce over and around the peppers. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese evenly on top of the  peppers. Place the tops back on the peppers.    Cook for 20 minutes uncovered, then cover with tin foil and cook an additional 30 minutes. 

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