Growing peppers in your garden this year? Even if you’re not, my stuffed peppers are a good reason to find some. I love the variety of colors you can find with bell peppers. Did you know that green bell peppers are simply unripe red bell peppers? I also learned that paprika is what happens when you dry the red bell peppers. No wonder I love them all. These stuffed peppers are a delicious and hearty dish that is easy to make. And while bell peppers are exceptionally mild, I like to spice up my filling with hot Italian sausage. The rice and sauce give this dish a homey flavor and, when topped with a generous amount of cheese, each of these stuffed peppers is an entire meal.

Belle’s Stuffed Peppers

6 bell peppers

½ pound ground beef

½ pound hot Italian sausage

¾ cup diced onions

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 cup cooked white rice

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

2 cups marinara sauce divided

1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or jack)

Cut the tops off the peppers and remove seeds and membranes. Chop up the tops of the peppers and set them aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the peppers for 5 minutes. Remove and drain well. Place 1 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Place the pepper in the pan. In a large skillet, brown the beef, sausage, onion, and garlic over medium-high heat until no pink remains. Add the onions and garlic and chopped pepper tops and cook until tender. Stir in the remaining 1 cup of marinara sauce, the can of diced tomatoes, rice, Worcestershire sauce, and Italian seasoning. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 3 minutes. Fill each pepper with the rice mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and baste peppers with any sauce in the bottom of the pan. Top with cheese and bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese melts and peppers are tender.

Brenda Stanley is the mother of five children, including two sets of twins and a grandmother of eight. She is a cookbook author and novelist. For more recipes and information, visit her website www.brendastanleybooks.com.