Shhh, I have a secret, I am having an affair with good food. I tried to ignore those feelings of passion when thinking of a good meal but to no avail. There is something sensual about food...the aroma, the taste, the utter satisfaction and contentment after savoring each bite. Ahhh, I just got the chills.
This love affair with food was the catalyst for me to learn how to cook for the pleasure of it, not just for sustenance. I was tired of having to go to restaurants when I wanted something other than the usual fare. The truth is that gourmet food does not have to be overly expensive, it does not have to be found only in the best restaurants, and it most definitely does not have to be difficult to make.
When I go to a restaurant for the "food experience" I try not to order something that I prepare at home because I like to experience different foods or preparations. Now that I am gluten-free, it is always refreshing finding new food experiences.
A couple of months ago I went out to an Italian restaurant and their nightly special was peppers stuffed with Italian sausage and risotto. As I took each delicious bite, all I could think of was when I was going to make these at home. I finally made these last week and they were such a hit that I wanted to share the recipe with you. I hope you will enjoy them as much as we did.
4 large bell peppers--any color
1 pound of bulk Italian sausage--either mild or hot (I love the hot)
1 cup Arborio Rice (Risotto)
4 cups chicken broth, warmed
1/2 cup white wine (not a sweet one)*
1 TBS butter
1 TBS vegetable oil
1 medium onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
3 cups of marina sauce or 1 jar of your favorite
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Cut peppers lengthwise in half, remove seeds and its membrane. Leave stem on if you want a nice presentation.
Rub peppers with oil, place peppers with skins facing up in a 13 x 9 pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until peppers are beginning to soften. Remove pan from oven and take out the peppers. Put 2 1/2 cups of marinara sauce in the pan, put peppers back in with the inside facing up.
In a skillet over medium heat, saute onions and garlic until soft. Add in Italian sausage, basil, oregano, and salt. Break up the sausage into small pieces with a spatula. Cook until sausage is no longer pink. Set aside.
Place broth into a sauce pan and heat until hot, but not boiling. Keep on simmer so it stays hot.
In another skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Once the mixture is hot, add in the arborio rice and saute for 1 to 2 minutes until you smell a nutty aroma. Do not brown. Add in the white wine. Stir until it is absorbed.
Once absorbed, put one ladle of broth into the rice. Stir frequently until it is absorbed. Continue to add broth one ladle at a time, stirring frequently, until all the broth is absorbed. You will notice the risotto getting creamier. Taste to make sure it is soft. Most of the time it requires the full 4 cups, sometimes a bit less. Remove from the heat.
Add the sausage mixture, cheeses, and 1/2 cup of the marina sauce to the risotto and stir well. Add ground pepper to taste.
Spoon mixture into each pepper. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an addional ten minutes.
When serving, place a pepper on a plate and spoon over some of the marina sauce from the pan. Please let me know how you like it.
For more recipe ideas, click on RECIPES
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