STUFFED BELL PEPPERS WITH CHICKEN, SMOKED MOZZARELLA AND BASIL (for four)
4 medium red, yellow, orange or green bell peppers (about 6 ounces each), ½ inch trimmed off tops, cores and seeds discarded
½ cup white, long-grain basmati rice
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
12 ounces ground chicken
3 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
one 14-1/2 ounce can diced plum tomatoes, drained
4 ounces smoked mozzarella, shredded (1 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
- Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and bell peppers. Cook until peppers are just beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove peppers from pot, drain off excess water and place peppers cut sides down on paper towels to drain. Return water to a boil, add rice and boil until tender, about 13 minutes. Drain rice and transfer it to a large bowl. Set aside.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350*.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in 12 inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and cook, breaking it into small pieces with spoon, until chicken becomes opaque, about 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to bowl with rice and stir in tomatoes, cheese, basil and salt and pepper to taste.
- Place peppers cut sides up in a 9 inch square baking dish. Using a soup spoon, divide filling evenly among peppers. Spoon 2 tablespoons bread crumbs over each filled pepper. Bake until filling is heated through, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately.