What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: Pre-fall stuffed peppers Tahoe style | TahoeDailyTribune.com

What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: Pre-fall stuffed peppers Tahoe style

Labor Day weekend is a time for late summer fun and festive food. As a kid I remember an autumn entree my mom baked: stuffed bell peppers. These were green bell peppers brimming over with hot ground beef and topped with tomato sauce. It was a meat lover’s delight. But I was a budding granola girl and went on a meat strike. In my rebellious teenage diet stage, I settled for a tossed green salad. It was the beginning of the end of my carnivore days. But that doesn’t mean I’ve dumped stuffed bell peppers. We still have a thing going on.

All week long, I’ve had veggies and whole grains on the brain. A few years ago, I’d peer at the boxes of entrees in the frozen food aisle at the grocery store. The stuffed peppers caught my eye but I passed (again) because they had that old-fashioned 20th century beef in ’em. I settled for veggie lasagna or eggplant frozen delights. But peppers, like these, are a nice, homey Tahoe-style change as the season ends. The last time I enjoyed savory wild rice was last Christmas. I stuffed game hens (occasionally I will indulge in poultry) with rice. I favored the wild rice feast while my two bird dogs and cat feasted on the baked birds. This vegetarian dish with green peppers, brown rice, red tomatoes and golden cheeses are the extraordinary hues we’re seeing around the lake. It’s a filling dish from the past with some fresh tweaks of the present.

2 large green bell peppers

1 package cooked whole grain wild rice

1/2 cup mushrooms, fresh, sliced

1/4 medium red onion, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic, chopped

1 cup four-style reduced-fat Italian cheeses, shredded

Roma tomatoes, sliced

Parmesan cheese, fresh and grated

European-style butter

Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and cut green pepper in half. Remove tops and seeds. In a frying pan, saute onions and garlic in one tablespoon of Mediterranean-style butter or extra virgin olive oil. In a bowl, mix rice with onion, garlic, and cheese. Put in baking pan filled with about one inch water and cover with foil. Bake 30-40 minutes or until peppers and tomatoes are tender but not mushy. Remove foil and top with tomatoes and grate fresh Parmesan cheese. Put back in oven until cheese is bubbly. Serves four.

Green bell peppers and wild rice is a great combo. The texture of the chewy rice paired with Italian cheeses, and tomatoes rather than sauce, make this recipe work. But hold the phone: Whole grain wild rice is super high in sodium. Still, it’s cholesterol free, no saturated fat, zero trans fat, a good source of thiamin, niacin and folic acid. So, watch your portion control and during the rest of the day, eat plenty of potassium-rich fruits and veggies to keep your sodium intake under control and not out-of-whack.

This weekend I’ll be in my cabin working like a worker bee. But the savory scent (it’s the onion, garlic and 23 herbs and seasonings in the rice) of these quick and easy to bake veggie peppers are a fine pick-me-up meal-in-one for any pre-fall day. You’ve got the ambiance of leaves changing color, crisp nights and squirrels munching on dropped pine cones. Fall is on its way and I taste it.

Slices of sourdough wheat bread, brushed with melted Mediterranean butter, fresh garlic and warmed up in the oven. Bake until crispy, cut in rectangular strips. These are a nice addition to pair with green peppers. The combo presentation is cool and it’ll warm you up at night for dinner.

– Cal Orey is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate) published by Kensington. Her website is http://www.calorey.com.

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