“I’m not a chef, I’m Italian”- David Rocco


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Healthy Italian Stuffed Peppers


I love Italian food. I think that is pretty obvious. What is not however, is the fact that I actually lead a very healthy lifestyle. Hard to believe considering all of this tempting food, right? But the truth is, I exercise everyday and the meals you see here are usually eaten once or twice a week. I also try to make little changes to all of my recipes to make them a little healthier. For example, you will notice that a lot of my recipes use chickpea flour (Chickpeafritters, fried zucchini) which is a healthier alternative to flour and is gluten free. Many of my recipes are low carb (spinach ricotta gnocchi, lemonRosemary roasted chicken) and I try to cook with a lot of vegetables (cauliflowerSiciliana, summer squash.) I also have many vegetarian recipes and even though it may sound silly, most of the time when I make something fried, I use whole wheat breadcrumbs. Even my pizza was made with whole wheat dough.  And as I said in my post about the Italian healthy lifestyle, it is all about moderation. But, I thought it would be a good idea to specifically post a healthy alternative. So I introduce…..the healthy Italian stuffed pepper.

I love stuffed peppers. You may think right off the bat that they are healthy, just by the fact that it’s a pepper, but on the contrary, it can actually be very fattening. If you make it with sausage or meatballs, mozzarella and regular breadcrumbs, as delicious as it may be, it’s not much better than having some eggplant parmigiana.  My version is completely vegetarian and it is stuffed with sautéed mushrooms, spinach, garlic, whole wheat bread crumbs and just a little Parmigiana cheese for flavor. One of the great things about Parmigiana cheese is that because it is a very intense, strong cheese, you can use less of it and you will still have a lot of flavor. While there is oil to sauté the vegetables, I always use olive oil because even though it has fat, it is the good kind of fat (monounsaturated fat.) The peppers are then topped with my homemade rustic garlic tomato sauce and baked. IDo not let the pictures fool you, these are amazing. I just don't have the best camera skills. You aren’t even going to miss the meat, trust me.

Healthy Italian Stuffed Peppers:

4 large peppers (red or green, your choice)
1 full pack of mushrooms
1 full bag of fresh spinach
1 head of garlic (minced)
2 tablepoons of olive oil
¼ cup of parmigiana cheese
½ cup of whole wheat bread crumbs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Tomato Sauce:
15 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
¼ cup olive oil
6 cloves of garlic (or as much as you like)
Salt
Pepper
Basil (finely chopped)
Crushed Italian herbs


First, clean your peppers thoroughly. Slice off the top and make sure you get rid of any of the seeds and white stems inside.

Clean your mushrooms and chop them very finely. Next, chop all of your fresh spinach. Chop your garlic.

Heat a pan over medium high heat and add the olive oil. Put the garlic in first and let it roast a little. Then add the mushrooms and let them shrink a little bit. Mix and add the spinach. Let all of the vegetables cook down, around 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the vegetables cool for a few minutes. Add the parmigiana cheese, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Thoroughly mix.

Prepare your tomato sauce; here is the original post with the recipe.

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Get out a casserole pan, big enough to fit 4 large peppers. Start to stuff the peppers with the filling, but please be careful not to tear them. Line the peppers in the pan and pour the tomato sauce on top. Cook for 25 minutes. I myself like to serve these with a fresh arugula, fennel and lemon salad. Buon Appetito!!