Turkey and brown rice stuffed bell peppers recipe

Photo by Sarah Elliott for Pamela Salzman

In all my classes since Labor Day, everyone seems to be so motivated to get back into a cooking and dinner routine!  Although, now that I think about it, people that come to a cooking class ARE motivated to cook.  So maybe the entire universe isn’t looking for new dinner recipes, but I am. And I am doing my best to be really organized about meals again.

how to cut the peppers

if you're peppers won't stand up on their own

I find it a million times easier to make dinners in the summer than during the school year.  Sliced tomato, burrata, basil and olive oil counts as a meal in the summer.  Not so much now.  My family wants “real food!”  Of course my days right now are overscheduled and I am still driving around a 16-year-old who could easily have her license by now if she were only motivated to take the test.  I was dying to get my driver’s license when I was in high school.  Not my daughter.  She seems perfectly content to let me and her friends be her personal Uber.  Why am I talking about this?  Oh right.  Because I am driving all over the place in those precious hours before dinner time.  So I need to be Uber organized, if you will.

saute onions and minced peppers

I taught these turkey and brown rice stuffed bell peppers in a class a year or two ago and realized I hadn’t made them in a while.  With a salad, green vegetable or some millet-cauliflower mash, this is a great weekday meal for my family.   My husband and son feel like they’re getting a substantial “meaty” main dish and I know that there’s more plant-based foods in this recipe than meat, so I’m happy too.  My mom and my grandmother used to make stuffed peppers often, but they used ground beef and I don’t think much rice, if any at all.  I love adding a hearty grain like brown rice here to stretch the turkey a little further.

add turkey

I think this recipe has a lot of flavor as it is written, but there’s plenty of room for adaptation here.  Add basil or switch to cilantro; add some grated cheese to the mixture or on top; add a little turkey sausage; or use grass-fed beef if you prefer.  Once I had a half of a small zucchini and I grated it into the onion mixture.  Mushrooms also go really well here.  One thing I would advise is to seek out pesticide-free or organic bell peppers since they are on the Dirty Dozen produce list.

add rice

For those of you do-aheaders (like me), stuff the peppers earlier in the day and refrigerate.  Then bake when you get home.  Or, prepare and bake these after school, and transfer cooked peppers to your slow cooker on the warm setting until you are ready to eat.  I am doing this more and more since I have a little time after school to do meal prep and then I’m out with the rest of the taxi drivers until dinner time.  Until, I pray, someone decides to get herself into gear and let me stick to my day job.

Photo by Sarah Elliott for Pamela Salzman
Photo by Sarah Elliott for Pamela Salzman
5.0 from 1 reviews
Turkey and Brown Rice Stuffed Bell Peppers
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 6 medium sweet bell peppers, washed
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined olive oil + additional for greasing the peppers
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ onion, minced (can be done in a food processor with the “pulse” button)
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock, divided
  • ¼ cup marinara or tomato sauce
  • 1 ½ cups cooked rice (I use brown rice)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim the tops off the bell peppers, just enough to remove the stem. If you want, dice up any pepper that you removed with the stem. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Rub the outside of the peppers with a little olive oil. Place cut side up in a baking dish and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Warm olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and parsley to the pan. You can also add any pepper bits you may have diced. Sauté about 2 minutes and add ground turkey, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Break up the turkey into small pieces with a wooden spoon and sauté until turkey is almost cooked through.
  3. Add tomato sauce and ½ cup stock. Simmer on low for 5 minutes until just cooked through. Add cooked rice to turkey mixture and combine well.
  4. Spoon turkey mixture into each pepper and fill to the top. Place the stuffed peppers in the baking dish and add ½ cup stock to the bottom of the pan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes until peppers are nice and soft and the turkey mixture is heated through.
Notes
You can add a little shredded mozzarella on top and broil until melted, if you like.

Italian Fried Rice Recipe and * VIDEO *


I ate an excessive amount of pasta growing up.  My mom prepared it about three times per week and then we usually had it also on Sundays when we went to spend the day with my mom’s family or my dad’s.  Pasta was part of our heritage, not just an easy dinner and not eaten plain with butter the way I know many kids prefer it.  (Coincidentally, my father is visiting this week and on Day 2 he was already asking for a plate of spaghetti!)

Italian Fried Rice made with brown rice and seasonal veggies | Pamela Salzman

Ironically I don’t make pasta much for my family, and not because we don’t like it.  We do!  And it’s not because pasta is a processed food, because it is and I try to limit those.  But, I don’t eat much pasta because I can’t stop myself from overeating it!  Did you know 1 serving of pasta is 1/2 cup?  Basically, I try to keep my carbohydrates to 2 servings per meal to avoid blood sugar spikes and to attempt to maintain a healthful weight.  Unfortunately, overeating pasta for me is very, very easy.  I think I can consume 4 cups of pasta no problem.  I know I can make a dish with mostly veggies and some pasta, but I always end up eating seconds.  And thirds.

Whole grains like farro, barley and brown rice I don’t overeat as easily.  A few years ago I ate a fried rice dish at Ammo in LA that was a game changer.  I always assumed fried rice to be Asian-inspired, but this one wasn’t.  And it’s not fried, by the way.  Just sautéed. It just had lots of seasonal market vegetables and brown rice all sautéed in olive oil.  It made me think about all the possibilities for fried rice and I have enjoyed making versions of that dish since then.  My favorite combination I came up with is this one here, which has an Itailian twist.  I am crazy for it because it makes me feel like I’m eating all the yummy flavors I would put in pasta and it feels more satisfying because the brown rice has so much more fiber than pasta.

But just like regular fried rice, this is a great way to use up bits of leftover veggies or any kind of grain, for that matter.  And it is super quick (as in minutes) to throw together.  I probably eat a version of this recipe for lunch more than anything else if I am working at home.  Now that I think about it, I am going to make this for my parents this week!

Italian Fried Rice with brown rice and veggies | pamela salzman

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Italian Fried Rice
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • a pinch of chili flakes (optional)
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 or 2 cups of shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps wiped clean with a damp paper towel and sliced thinly
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • a few leaves of fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 cups baby leafy greens like chard, kale and spinach or 6 stalks of kale, stemmed and leaves chopped or more
  • 3-4 cups COOKED short grain brown rice
  • chicken stock, vegetable stock or water, if necessary
  • optional accompaniment ideas: grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino cheese, poached or fried egg, toasted, chopped nuts, hot sauce
Instructions
  1. Warm a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and when warm, add the garlic and chili flakes. Sauté until the garlic is just starting to turn golden on the edges, about 30-60 seconds.
  2. Add the cherry tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté until the tomatoes just start to lose their shape and the asparagus and mushrooms are tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add the fresh basil and sauté until wilted.
  3. Add the cooked rice, the greens and another pinch of salt and pepper and sauté until the rice is warmed through and the greens are wilted. If the rice and vegetables are sticking to the pan, add a splash of water or stock. Serve immediately with or without suggested accompaniments.
Notes
Cooked quinoa, millet or lentils can be subbed for the rice.  You can also use part grain/part chickpeas. Or omit the tomatoes and basil and use different quick-cooking vegetables like thinly sliced fennel, diced zucchini, shredded carrots, blanched cauliflower florets, peas, scallions.  And use different ingredients to add in later, such as cooked beets, sliced oranges, avocado, olives and so on.  There are unlimited combinations!

Kale, mushroom and brown rice bake recipe

Kale, Mushroom and Brown Rice Bake | Pamela Salzman
Kale, Mushroom and Brown Rice Bake | Pamela Salzman
Photography by Reagan Brooks

Daughter #1 is my 15-year-old who used to turn her nose at her plate if food groups were touching.  So you can imagine how very satisfying it was for me when she sighed, “I could eat Kale, Mushroom and Brown Rice Bake every day.”   Sigh.  Actually, both my daughters are crazy about this rice and veggie quasi-frittata and I am thrilled to cook them something so healthful and substantial for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  At the moment, the girls are on a brown rice bake kick and I’ve had to make it three times in the last two weeks!

Kale, Mushroom and Brown Rice Bake | Pamela Salzman

With teenage daughters usually comes a little drama, even first thing in the morning.  It usually involves someone borrowing someone else’s clothes without asking or someone posting a picture on Instagram of the other one sleeping with her mouth open.  But who knew that even breakfast food could fuel more than just hungry bodies?  Yesterday morning there was only 1 piece of brown rice bake leftover from the day before and Daughter #2 was the first one in the kitchen.    You know what they say about the early bird….  Daughter #1 was not the early bird yesterday, nor is she any day for that matter, but apparently she dreamt all night of brown rice bake instead of the boys from One Direction.  Do you know where this is going?  I watched it unfold in slow motion as #1 opened the refrigerator looking for the breakfast of her dreams while #2 savored another forkful of the last of the rice bake.  I knew what was next.  “Where’s the rice bake?”  No response was really necessary as my glance shot over to her sister who looked hesitant and terrified as she finished the last bite.  Hell hath no fury like a hungry teenage girl robbed of her rice bake.  No further details necessary.

Kale, Mushroom and Brown Rice Bake | Pamela Salzman                    Kale, Mushroom and Brown Rice Bake | Pamela Salzman

What’s the point of airing my family’s dirty laundry?  Oh merely just to share how much we love Brown Rice Bake and to encourage you to make it!  Although most of us (except for Mr. Picky) love frittatas, this is less eggy and more rice and vegetables bound with just enough egg to hold it all together.  The rice and (optional) sliced almonds give every bite great texture.  It’s super satisfying for any meal and a great way to use up leftover cooked brown rice and whatever vegetables you have lying around.  Think of this recipe as merely a roadmap to deliciousness – there is more than one way to get there.  Spinach, broccoli, leeks, asparagus, zucchini – all perfect here.

Kale, Mushroom and Brown Rice Bake | Pamela Salzman

I felt bad that Daughter #1 was disappointed yesterday so last night I sautéed all my vegetables and pre-measured the rice, cheese, salt and almonds, so all I had to do this morning was crack some eggs and measure a bit of milk.   I was so excited to surprise my lovely daughter with a new brown rice bake when she woke up this morning.  It’s noon and I’m still waiting for her to wake up.  Just praying there’s some rice bake left when she does…..

Kale, Mushroom and Brown Rice Bake | Pamela Salzman

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Kale, Mushroom and Brown Rice Bake
Author: 
Serves: 4-6 or makes 12 individual "muffins"
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined extra-virgin olive oil or ghee
  • 4 ounces mushrooms (such as shiitake*), chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large kale leaves, stemmed and chopped (or more if you like)
  • Sea salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (or barley, farro or spelt)
  • 5 Tablespoons sliced almonds, divided
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, divided
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup whole milk or unsweetened hemp milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease an 8x8 or 9-inch round baking dish. You can also use a 12-cup muffin tin, greased or lined with silicone liners.
  2. In a large skillet heat the oil/ghee over medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms, onions, kale and a pinch of salt for about 3-5 minutes or until just beginning to soften.
  3. Add in the garlic. Continue cooking until everything is softened and the mushrooms are golden, about another 3 minutes.
  4. Place the rice in a large bowl. Stir in the mushroom mixture, ¼ cup almonds, and half the Parmesan cheese.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper. Fold the eggs into the rice mixture, then pour into your prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the reserved half of cheese and 1 Tablespoon of sliced almonds.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes or until set.
Notes
*To clean mushrooms, wipe with a damp paper towel. For shiitakes, slice off stems and discard.