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Red Peppers Stuffed with Italian Sausage
(Serves 4)
Red Peppers Stuffed wth Italian Sausage
Sausage Stuffed Peppers served with Panella

4 medium-size red bell peppers
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed and meat crumbled
4 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
15 black olives, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 cup hot water


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut each pepper in half lengthwise.  Remove the stem, seeds, and ribs.

Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil.  Add the peppers to the boiling water and cook for 4-5 minutes.  Drain and set the peppers aside to cool.

In a large sauté pan over medium- low heat, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Add the onion and sauté until just beginning to brown, about 4-5 minutes.
Add the celery and sauté another 2-3 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a plate and set aside.

Add the crumbled sausage to the pan over medium heat and cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Add the onion mixture and diced tomatoes to the pan and cook 3-4 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in olives, and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the peppers, cut side up, in a baking dish in which they can fit in a single layer.  Spoon the sausage mixture into the peppers, dividing it evenly among them.  Top each pepper with some of the bread crumbs and drizzle with the remaining olive oil.

Pour the hot water into the dish but not on the peppers.
Bake, uncovered, until the crumbs are golden brown, about 40 minutes.
Transfer the peppers to a platter and serve.
A rustic dish that can be assembled several hours ahead of time, refrigerated, and baked before serving.  Chicken or turkey sausage would also be delicious in this colorful dish. 
Vegetarians can substitute beans, rice, or another grain, such as farro, for the sausage.
Serve the peppers for dinner or a weekend lunch accompanied by polenta crostini or panella
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Sauteing onions until soft, 5 to 10 minutes, is the first step in many recipes.  The reason is that softened onions add body and sweetness.  Browning onions, 10 to 15 minutes, gives the onions a deeper flavor that makes them great with sauteed greens or in a savory tart.  Lowering the heat and cooking the onions for 30 minutes or more will caramelize them.  Longer cooking brings out the onion's sweet side. Caramelized onions are nice on pizza or in pasta.
Some useful food words or terms that you may find in
Italian recipes, while dining at an Italian restaurant, or traveling in Italy.
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