The Unexpected Ingredient Rachael Ray Loves Putting In Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers in cast iron skillet
Stuffed peppers in cast iron skillet - Rudisill/Getty Images

Stuffed peppers are a filling, hearty, and crowd-pleasing meal that is as delicious as it is easy to make. We often think of a traditional chile relleno recipe or a simple meat and cheese stuffed pepper with a Tex-Mex twist. But if you're anything like Rachael Ray, you enjoy thinking outside of the box. And as much as we love an ordinary protein-packed stuffed pepper, we're also crazy about Ray's Italian-inspired stuffed pepper that calls for one surprising ingredient -- pasta.

In her unique stuffed pepper recipe, Ray blends ground pork, veal, and beef with rice, passata (a kind of tomato purée), parmesan cheese, broken spaghetti pasta, and herbs and aromatics like onion, garlic, thyme, parsley, and celery for a refreshing take on a classic dish.

For starters, adding spaghetti pasta to your stuffed pepper rounds out the dish with an extra dose of comforting carbs that will leave you full and satisfied. The pasta provides a balanced texture to the dish, complementing the softness of the peppers and the heartiness of the filling. Pasta also absorbs the flavor of the seasonings and herbs you include in the dish, bringing a flavorful depth to each bite. Plus, putting your pasta to use in this unconventional way is a fun way to challenge your culinary imagination.

Read more: 11 Of The Best Cooking Tips From Bobby Flay

Customizing Rachael Ray's Recipe

Pasta-stuffed peppers
Pasta-stuffed peppers - olepeshkina/Shutterstock

As always, curiosity and exploration are always encouraged in the kitchen, so don't be afraid to reshape and reimagine how this Rachael Ray original comes together. If you want to reduce the amount of red meat in the recipe, swap the beef, pork, and veal for ground turkey or ground chicken instead. If you're a vegan or vegetarian, opt for meatless beef crumbles or kick the faux animal protein to the curb in exchange for lentils or black beans and swap the parmesan for nutritional yeast.

When it comes to the pasta you use, Ray offers her fans two options -- broken spaghetti noodles or orzo. But the world is your... pepper? And you can use any pasta that your heart desires. Penne, macaroni elbows, and acini di pepe are excellent options, or dare we say tortellini? Just remember, the bigger the pasta the bigger the pepper needs to be. Ray uses mild Italian peppers for her recipe, but don't be afraid to go bold with spicy peppers like habanero or Anaheim peppers, provided you and your guests can handle the heat.

Whether it's vodka cream sauce, a white Alfredo variety, or a wine-based red sauce, don't hesitate to get crafty with your sauce too!

Storing Leftover Pasta Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers on a plate
Stuffed peppers on a plate - zefirchik06/Shutterstock

These pasta-infused stuffed peppers are sure to be an instant family favorite, which means you'll probably make enough of them to have leftovers for the next day. But like any leftover food, it's important to be mindful of how long they last when properly stored.

Cooked pasta can last up to five days in the refrigerator, but if it's been cooked with meat, your stuffed peppers should be consumed within three to four days, and the sooner you consume the leftovers, the fresher they will taste. Similarly, the cooked vegetables you include in your pasta-stuffed peppers will last up to four days, so the general rule of thumb is that if you've reached day five without consuming your leftover peppers, whether you've made them meaty or vegan, it's time to throw them out.

If you're not sure if they've gone bad or not, rely on your senses. If your peppers start to look bruised, slimy, or moldy, or develop an unusual odor, it's best to toss them out. To maximize their lifespan, store them in an airtight container and make sure that your refrigerator temperature is set to at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. As long as you keep these guidelines in your frame of mind, you can enjoy your leftover pasta-stuffed peppers safely and merrily.

Next time you need to jazz up your stuffed pepper recipe, think like Rachael Ray and add pasta!

Read the original article on Daily Meal.