My first memory of stuffed peppers was when my dad made the stuffed pepper stuffing and served it in bowls for dinner one night when my mom was gone. I remember this very well because at the time no one had any idea Dad even knew how to cook. Of course that left both my sister and I shocked when he started cooking anything besides perogies when we were adults. Stuffed peppers are a simple way to use up peppers when you have an abundance of bell peppers in the garden. Growing our own peppers it is not unknown for us to have a huge pile of peppers all at once. This simple guide to stuffed pepper filling will help you make use of your fresh bell peppers What can go into stuffed pepper stuffing You can get creative with the filling for stuffed peppers, and there are many ingredients you can use to customize the flavor to your liking. Here are some common ingredients that work well in stuffed pepper fillings: Grains and Carbohydrates: Cooked rice (white, brown, wild, or any variety you prefer) Quinoa Couscous Bulgur Farro Bread crumbs or panko for added texture Protein: Ground meat (beef, turkey, chicken, pork, or a meat alternative like tofu or tempeh) Cooked beans (black beans, kidney beans, lentils, etc.) Chopped cooked sausage (Italian, chorizo, etc.) Canned tuna or salmon Vegetables: Onions Garlic Tomatoes (fresh or canned) Corn kernels Spinach or kale (chopped and cooked) Mushrooms (sliced or chopped) Zucchini or summer squash (diced) Carrots (grated or finely chopped) Cheese: Mozzarella Cheddar Parmesan Feta Goat cheese Pepper jack (for a spicy kick) Herbs and Spices: Basil Parsley Oregano Thyme Cumin Paprika Chili powder Red pepper flakes (for extra heat) Sauces and Condiments: Tomato sauce or marinara Salsa Soy sauce or tamari (for an Asian-inspired twist) Worcestershire sauce Nuts and Seeds: Pine nuts Almonds Sunflower seeds Pumpkin seeds Extras: Olives (black or green, sliced or chopped) Raisins or dried cranberries (for a touch of sweetness) Capers Remember to season your filling with salt, pepper, and any additional spices or herbs you enjoy. You can also experiment with different combinations to suit your taste preferences. Feel free to mix and match ingredients to create your own unique stuffed pepper filling! How to make a simple stuffed pepper stuffing Ingredients: 4 large bell peppers (any color you prefer) 1 cup cooked rice (white or brown) 1 pound ground beef 1 small onion, finely chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 cup pasta sauce (store-bought or homemade) 1 cup shredded cheese (your choice) 2 tablespoons olive oil Salt and pepper to taste Directions: Cook the rice according to package instructions. Once cooked, fluff with a fork and set aside. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the ground beef and cook until browned. Drain any excess fat if necessary. In the skillet with the cooked beef, add the cooked rice and pasta sauce. Mix well to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the mixture to cook together for a few minutes. How to make stuffed peppers Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Cut the tops off the bell peppers and remove the seeds and membranes. Set aside. Place the hollowed-out bell peppers in a baking dish. Spoon the beef and rice mixture into each pepper, pressing down gently to pack the filling. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until the peppers are tender. Remove the foil and sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese over the top of each stuffed pepper. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Carefully remove the stuffed peppers from the oven. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired. Let them cool slightly before serving. Serving your bell peppers Stuffed peppers can be a satisfying and well-rounded meal on their own, but if you'd like to serve them with some complementary dishes, here are some ideas: Salad: A fresh salad can be a great side dish. Consider a simple garden salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and your favorite dressing. Garlic Bread: A slice of warm garlic bread is always a crowd-pleaser and pairs well with the flavors of stuffed peppers. Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes can provide a comforting and hearty side to balance the flavors of the stuffed peppers. Roasted Vegetables: Roasted vegetables like carrots, broccoli, or asparagus can add a colorful and nutritious element to your meal. Grilled Vegetables: Grilled zucchini, eggplant, or Portobello mushrooms can complement the dish with their smoky flavor. Coleslaw: A tangy coleslaw with cabbage, carrots, and a creamy dressing can add a refreshing crunch. Rice or Quinoa: Serve the stuffed peppers with an extra side of rice or quinoa for added texture and sustenance. Soup: A light vegetable or tomato soup can be a nice starter before enjoying the stuffed peppers. Bean Salad: A bean salad with ingredients like kidney beans, black beans, corn, and a vinaigrette dressing can provide a protein-rich side. Caprese Salad: Combine sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze for a flavorful Italian-inspired side. Fruit Salad: A refreshing fruit salad with a mix of seasonal fruits can be a lovely contrast to the savory stuffed peppers. Steamed or Grilled Asparagus: Asparagus spears, lightly seasoned and cooked, can be a tasty and nutritious side. Sweet Potato Fries: Baked sweet potato fries offer a sweet and savory accompaniment to the dish. Green Beans Almondine: Sautéed green beans with butter and toasted almonds make for an elegant and flavorful side. Greek Tzatziki Sauce: A cucumber and yogurt-based tzatziki sauce can add a cool and tangy element to the meal.