Thursday, August 4, 2011

Project Stuffed Peppers

As long-time Karmic Kitchen readers know, I am not a pepper fan. Not spicy, not mild, not even pickled. The only way my mom could get me to eat them as a kid was to stuff them with meat and then cover with a tomato sauce. Even then there would be pepper carcasses left on my plate. So I got to wondering if I could trick myself into making peppers more palatable ? But how to do that? Stuff them, yes, good idea, but with what? Of course, my go to comfort food, mac and cheese!

mini macs

So the challenge I set for myself was to make a tasty mac and cheese stuffed pepper. First the pasta. The interior of a pepper is not huge. The pasta I would normally use seemed too large for my purposes. Luckily there are some mini-pastas out there that would work better. The two pieces of pasta in the middle are a normal size while the surrounding are minis. I decided on the mini-shells. Next I had to choose my peppers.


I could of gone normal size but I really like the size of the mini-peppers. They seem sweeter, less pepper-tasting than the full sized. Oh yeah and NO GREEN PEPPERS. Sorry green pepper lovers. Find your pepper porn somewhere else. So I've got my peppers and pasta, time to put it all together. I decided to try Cook's Illustrated Classic Macaroni and Cheese recipe. I've never had the need to test their recipe out because I like my own mac and cheese. However I was intrigued enough to give theirs a twirl. We all know what a CI geek I am but when it comes to mac and cheese, the good folks at the Test Kitchen seem to be lost in a sea of cheese. They can't seem to find their way to a truly classic mac and cheese. It's not their cheese choices or their b├ęchamel sauce but it's their insistence to not bake the final dish, opting only to broil the topping for 3 minutes. What you're left with is a much more soupy dish than the classic pasta casserole. I have no idea what they ate as a kid but it wasn't my momma's mac and cheese.

stuffed peppers 2

Still I stuffed my peppers with it because once you get started on a creation, you should finish it. I had par-boiled my peppers to make them a little more pliable in the final dish and topped each with butter toasted Panko crumbs mixed with finely chopped bacon bits. You really didn't think I was going to leave out the bacon did you? Silly rabbits....

stuffed peppers 1

The taste was pretty good, the contrast of the rich cheesiness and the distinctly sweet pepper flavor was actually kinda fun. Here's what I discovered with the leftover mac and cheese that didn't go into the peppers. Put it in a baking dish, put on the same crumb topping, put it in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes and it came out much better than the stove top only version. Still needs a little more cheese flavor but I'm still taking it for lunch tomorrow.


the dogs' mother said...

Yesterday, 95 degrees out, I made a cold pasta buffet - make your own pasta salad so all my picky eaters could have their favorite stuffs. Daughter said 'oh, this could been mac and cheeeeeeeese?' I expect to have Wallace and Gromit as son-in-laws someday.

Big Shamu said...


MakingSpace said...

I'm simply astounded. A post reporting the use of jalapenos. And now, stuffed peppers.

I want to know how you did the butter-toasted panko crumbs. This is a trick I need to know.

Dani said...

You go girl!

And I'm with yah on the green peppers. Yucky!

Buzz Kill said...

A local farmer once told me that green bell peppers are not ripe. All peppers start out green and ripen to red, orange, yellow, brown, etc. Green bells tend to be harsh and lead to indigestion. The Mrs will not let me bring them in the house and honestly, I have to agree with her.

I like your mac and cheese stuffing idea. And I'd like to hear about the panko crumble too.

Big Shamu said...

Melt some butter in a skillet, once it's melted throw in some Panko bread crumbs. Mix thoroughly with the butter and heat until a little toasted. Toss breadcrumbs over your mac and cheese or any other dish that you want a crunchy topping on and heat gently under broiler or just bake it until the topping is golden brown. Put your Hawk Eyes in because it will burn just as quick as pinenuts if you don't watch them closely enough.


Susan said...

OMG yum !! I say that a lot over here don't I ?? Yum-yum-yum. What a great idea. And the blueberry butter - I live 10 minutes from the blueberry capital of the WORLD !! Uh Huh !! trying this one for sure, eh ???

xoxoxo S & les Gang

Terry and Linda said...

I'm not a pepper lover either. Sometimes a chopped up jalapeno but that is about it. Thanks for coming up with this.


MakingSpace said...

So the girls were not convinced that there was really mac and cheese in there - I had to do some serious talking before they'd believe.

Now I'm hearing "I like all of that except the peppers."

Haha and they're reading every word as I type. Kids. Bah. (They think this is all very very funny.)

Big Shamu said...

Hey Linda (great name btw) not a problem, I'm always trying to figure out more vegetarian dishes. Just not with green peppers.

Yes there was mac and cheese inside the little pepper. It was like an appetizer. No dancing for peppers huh?

Melissa said...

lovely! we used to have stuffed green peppers - rice and hamburger - not my fave. And I don't like cooked green peppers, but I do like them raw or grilled to utter limpness