Stuffed peppers are a colorful lot

February 24, 2005

In between holiday celebrations, families still want food that looks good enough to eat, as well as tasting as good as it looks. Happily, some food naturally just looks so festive that the cook can easily dish it up for company, or cheer the family with it at an informal meal.

Here's an example from the February issue of "Vegetarian Times," from a feature that suggests a menu for a "big easy" buffet that could make any day a kind of carnival.

One item from the suggested buffet: This recipe for stuffed peppers produces a dish bright with your choice of peppers. Added color comes from tomato sauce and tiny green sprigs of thyme.

Stuffed Peppers with Tomato Sauce

4 large red, green or yellow bell peppers

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 soy "sausage" links, cut into chunks

2 cups chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup minced parsley


Two 14 1/2-ounce cans chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Pinch cayenne, or to taste

3 cups cooked rice

1 cup plus 8 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

8 sprigs thyme

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice bell peppers in half lengthwise. Remove core and seeds, rinse and pat dry. Set aside.

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Saut "sausage" 2 minutes. Add onion, celery, garlic and parsley, and cook about 10 minutes more. Stir in 1/2 cup tomatoes, thyme and cayenne.

Put rice in bowl, and stir in vegetable mixture. Let stand 15 minutes so the rice absorbs any liquid from vegetables. Stir in cheese. Divide rice mixture among pepper halves, mounding mixture into cavities. Pour remaining tomato mixture into small baking dish. Nestle stuffed peppers on top of tomatoes. Cover dish with lid or aluminum foil.

Bake 1 hour. Uncover peppers, and sprinkle each pepper with 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese. Cook, uncovered, 10 minutes. Serve with sauce from baking dish, and garnish with fresh thyme, if desired.

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