Zucchini and Italian Sausage Stuffed Banana Peppers

When I returned from vacation last weekend I returned to a garden bursting at the seams.  My pepper plants went crazy while I was away.  And I have more sausage in the freezer than anyone could need for a year.  Stuffed peppers are an easy way to manage peppers in large volume.  I’ve made sausage stuffed banana peppers in the past and a lot of you seem to like that recipe. (If you haven’t seen it check it out here).  I decided to try to lighten those up this time around without giving up the flavor.  Not a bad idea at all.

You can stuff peppers with nearly anything.  I find that they freeze and reheat a little better if you avoid rice stuffings, but other than that you’re good.  This time I decided to use the last of the summer zucchini in with the sausage, peppers and onions.  I figured that the zucchini would count as an extra vegetable, but with a neutral enough flavor that it wouldn’t dilute the sausage.  This is Ault’s Family Farm sausage and like everything from the Ault’s it’s terrific.   On the flavor side I was right.  The sweet italian sausage was a bold enough flavor that stretching it a little with extra vegetables didn’t hurt any.  Flavor, check!

The texture is another story. There were so many vegetables in this that it refused to stick together.  And when you’re stuff banana peppers that you’ve halved a filling that won’t stick together is a problem.  Next time I use a stuffing that’s half vegetables I’ll leave the peppers whole and just clean out the cores and seeds.  Of course I cut and seeded the peppers first so I just had to deal with it.  I decided to add just a few breadcrumbs and an egg, like I would with a meatloaf, to see if that would help.  Not so much.  I did the best I could and packed the baking dish tight enough that there wasn’t room for the peppers to fall over.  Texture, check minus.

I topped them with some marinara I had in the freezer from a batch earlier in the summer.  This was a pretty thin marinara.  I should have reduced it before adding it to the dish.  Here’s the thing about a stuffing with a lot of zucchini in it.  Zucchini is full of water that comes out when you bake it.  Add a thin marinara to a bunch of zucchini water and you have kind of a mess.  I opted to pour off some of the liquid once the peppers were cooked, being careful not to lose any tomatoes.  The tomatoes add a fresh taste that really brightens these up.  Once again flavor – yum!  Texture – meh.

This makes a whole bunch of peppers.  Plenty to eat and some left to freeze.  I took most of them to a dear family that just lost an incredible wife, mother, grandmother and all around amazing woman.  Sometimes all you can do is offer a little sustenance.  I hope it helped.

Good? The flavor is very good.
Easy? Stuffing peppers is kind of a pain.
Good for company? There are plenty to share.
Special shopping? Nope.

Zucchini and Italian Sausage Stuffed Banana Peppers

Ingredients

1 lb sweet italian sausage, casings removed
1 onion, diced (about 1 C)
1 yellow pepper, diced (about 1 C)
1 large zucchini, diced (about 2 C)
1 egg
1/3 C bread crumbs
1/2 t salt
12-15 banana peppers, halved and seeded
1 1/2-2 C marinara

Directions

Combine first seven ingredients (sausage through salt) in a large bowl. Mix until ingredients are well combined.
Stuff each pepper half with enough sausage mix to fill it.
Place peppers side by side, tightly packed, in a baking dish.
Top with marinara.
Bake at 350 degrees 40 minutes.

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