When I began exploring European and Greek cuisine, one dish I was brave enough to try was Stuffed Peppers with Cream Cheese and Ground Beef. All the recipes I found looked complicated, but once I read the instructions, they are actually quite similar.
The filling you’ll stuff into the bell pepper would vary, depending on what recipe you’re following. For example:
- In India, you’ll find several versions (one stuffed with meat, potatoes and spices, another stuffed with just spiced flour mix).
- In Spain, their “pimientos rellenos” are made with chicken, cod, and Manchego cheese.
- In Arab, Turkish, Israeli, and other Middle East cuisine, “dolma” recipes use a wide range of peppers, vegetables and other “something stuffed” ingredients.
- In Denmark, stuffed bell peppers contain kielbasa, kale and mushrooms.
The exact place where stuffed peppers originated is unknown, but bell peppers are native to Mexico, Central America, and northern South America, so it is highly likely locals from these places invented stuffing bell peppers and turning them into smokey, delectable main or side dishes.
This recipe I’m going to make for you today is based on the American version many of our moms and grandmas cooked for us in the past. So expect my stuffed peppers to be cooked with cream cheese, ground beef, rice, herbs, spices and any of the red, green, yellow, and orange bell pepper varieties. With a little twist, thanks to the cream cheese.
Cook the Filling First for Stuffed Peppers with Cream Cheese and Ground Beef
Heat your non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
Once it’s hot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Let it heat up a little, then cook your diced onion (one piece of medium-sized onion will do).
Add 3 ounces of diced mushrooms into the pan. You can use canned mushrooms, but I prefer fresh ones.
Mix the onions and mushrooms until combined. Brown them for about 2 minutes.
Stir in ¾-pound of ground beef and cook for 5 minutes, or until all red bits turn brown.
While the ground beef cooks, season your dish with a teaspoon of dried oregano and ½ teaspoon of garlic powder.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
OPTIONAL: If you’re a fan of spicy food, this is the best time to add a teaspoon of cayenne or chili pepper into the ground meat.
Once the ground beef is ready (the size would most likely shrink in half), taste a little if the spices are enough. If not, add more pepper, salt or any spice your heart desires.
Now stir in a cup of cooked white rice into your ground beef mixture. Combine thoroughly.
Open your 14-ounce canned tomato sauce and pour it into your ground beef. Mix well until combined.
The stuffing or filling of your stuffed peppers with cream cheese and ground beef should look something like this. It’s supposed to be thick, sort of like a paella.
Stuff Filling into Your Bell Peppers
You don’t need to pre-cook your bell peppers, but you have to clean them and prepare them properly for stuffing. You have two ways to do this to avoid wasting pepper flesh.
- Method 1 (the way I did it): If you’re trying to copy your mom’s stuffed peppers, you’ll need to do it traditionally by placing the pepper on its side, then swiftly cutting the top stem of the pepper off. With a paring knife, remove excess pith or seeds inside (I turn the pepper around slowly as I go to get everything out). This method gives you a bigger space to fill, and in turn, more stuffed pepper to eat.
- Method 2: Slice the pepper in half vertically through the middle of the stem. You can leave the stems intact or remove them as you take out the pith and seeds. This method ends up with a more “bite-sized” version of the stuffed peppers.
There’s no right or wrong way to do it. Once you’ve decided on how you want your bell peppers sliced, stuff 6 to 8 pieces of bell peppers with the ground meat mixture one by one.
Arrange them nicely on an oven-safe casserole pan.
Stuffed Peppers with Cream Cheese and Ground Beef
- Non-stick frying pan
- Casserole pan
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 3 oz. mushrooms diced
- ¾ lb. ground beef
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 14 oz. tomato sauce can
- 6-8 peppers
- 4 oz. cream cheese
- 2 large eggs
- In a nonstick frying pan over medium heat warm the olive oil and start cooking the diced onion and diced mushrooms.
- Mix until combined and cook for about 2 minutes.
- Stir in the ground beef and cook for 5 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, dried oregano and garlic powder.
- Stir in the cooked rice and mix until combined.
- Pour in the tomato sauce and mix until combined.
- Stuff the peppers with the ground meat mixture and arrange the stuffed peppers on a casserole pan.
- Mix the cream cheese with the eggs until smooth and season with salt to taste.
- Pour the cream cheese mixture over the peppers and bake in an already heated oven at 350° F or 180° C for about 30-40 minutes.
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