Stuffed Bell Peppers

Kid-friendly and economical, these stuffed peppers are a real crowd-pleaser. If you like, you can assemble up to 8 hours in advance, refrigerate, and bake before serving.

PREP TIME: 10 minutes
COOK TIME: 55 minutes

1 pound lean ground beef
4 mushrooms, chopped
3 ears of fresh corn kernels, or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 14.5 ounce cans petite diced tomatoes with juice
2 tablespoons concentrated tomato paste
2 tablespoons basil
1 tablespoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups cooked long grain rice
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
6 bell peppers
1 cup shredded fontina cheese or monterey jack cheese

Brown the ground beef in a large fry pan over medium high heat for 5 minutes or until cooked almost through. Add the mushrooms, corn kernels, chopped celery, onion and garlic and cook until vegetables are softened. Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Season with kosher salt and ground pepper to taste and cook for 15-20 minutes. Stir in cooked rice and chopped parsley and cook for another 5 minutes or until the rice is warmed through.

Meanwhile, cut off the tops of the peppers and spoon out the ribs and seeds, then rinse. Lightly sprinkle the inside of the peppers with kosher salt and place in a microwave safe dish with 1/4 cup water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 5 minutes or until they start to soften.

Transfer to a 3 quart baking dish and fill the peppers with the hot meat and rice mixture. Sprinkle the tops with cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until peppers are tender and cheese is browned. Serve hot.