This is an economical way to serve a group, using a small amount of meat to season the stuffing of a hearty yet relatively lean dish.
Make Ahead: The stuffing mixture can be made, cooled and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days before making the dish.
- 12 ounces kale, washed thoroughly
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 medium clove garlic, chopped
- 8 ounces spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1/3 cup uncooked arborio or other short-grain rice
- 28 ounces low-sodium canned crushed tomatoes with juices, preferably Muir Glen brand fire-roasted tomatoes
- Kosher or sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup water
- 6 medium or large red bell peppers (about 2 1/2 pounds total)
- 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, chopped (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Have a baking dish at hand that’s large and deep enough to hold 12 bell pepper halves.
Strip the kale leaves from the stems, and save the stems for another use. Cut the kale into thin slices.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil until it starts to shimmer. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have started to soften, about 2 or 3 minutes. Add the sausage and kale and cook, stirring to break apart the meat, until the meat browns and is cooked through and the kale has thoroughly wilted, about 3 or 4 minutes. Use a spoon to break up any clumps of sausage.
Add the rice and about ½ cup of the crushed tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the water, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat until the liquid is barely bubbling around the edges. Cover and cook until the rice has absorbed the liquid and has plumped, about 18 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the peppers in half, starting close to the stem. Remove and discard the seeds and ribs, but leave the stems as intact as possible (for presentation).
When the filling is ready, remove it from the heat and divide it equally among the cavities of the peppers, packing them loosely. Pour the remaining crushed tomatoes and their juices into the baking dish. Arrange the peppers, filled sides up, on top of the tomatoes. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until the peppers have softened, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Uncover; drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with the mint, if desired. Serve hot, with some of the tomatoes and juices from the pan.
From Food editor Joe Yonan.
Tested by Joe Yonan.
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