In my world of favorite foods, hot Italian sausage is a strong number two behind my beloved steak. And this is a very fun way to serve it up. Actually, there are two different ways to serve this up. With the first, you shave off the top of the bell pepper and use the lower body as a bowl (as pictured above). The second way to serve this is to cut the pepper from pole to pole. Then you lay the halves out flat, add the meat stuffing and serve them like open-faced sandwiches.
While the recipe calls for a cup of cooked orzo, sometimes I get lazy and don't want to go to all the effort of cooking just one cup of pasta. So I just grab a pouch of Uncle Ben's Ready Rice (it comes already cooked) and that shaves a good 10 to 12 minutes off of my prep time. You'll only need a cup, so you will have a little rice left over.
This recipe is meant to be served as an entree. So when you go to the grocery store, check out the green, red and yellow bell peppers. You want to buy the biggest, honkin' peppers they have, regardless of color. Go big and then go home.
- Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large stockpot or Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and then submerge bell peppers. Cook until peppers just begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, remove peppers from pot, drain off excess water, and place peppers cut-sides up on paper towels.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350º.
- Heat 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until hot, about 1-1/2 minutes; add oil and swirl to coat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add sausage and cook, breaking it into small pieces with spoon, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to bowl with orzo; stir in tomatoes, 1 cup cheese, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Place peppers cut-side up in 9-inch square baking dish. Using soup spoon, divide filling evenly among peppers. Spoon 2 tablespoons pasta sauce over each filled pepper and sprinkle each with 1/4 cup of remaining cheese. Bake until cheese is browned and filling is heated through, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately.