Seafood and Eggplant Stuffed Bell Peppers
Here in South Louisiana peppers grow like weeds. Our long, hot summers paired with lots of rain and humidity make for the perfect pepper growing environment. As a matter of fact most summer gardens flourish here as vegetable plants produce huge bounties. So whether it’s sweet or hot peppers rest assured that we have them by the basket full, and bell peppers are no exception.
Most of these bell peppers are destined to be chopped up and used as seasoning for other dishes, such as gumbo, there are a few dishes that showcase the pepper as the main ingredient.
Stuffed bell pepper anatomy
While stuffed bell peppers is a traditional Cajun dish, and it is also seen in many cultures that enjoy a temperate climate. The tradition in Cajun way is to make a meat based stuffing with rice, fill the hollowed out peppers, and bake them.
My recipe incorporates seafood and eggplant as well to give the dish incredible flavor and texture. I also do not bake the stuffed peppers as long as tradition indicates. I enjoy the flavor and crunch of a lightly cooked pepper.
The eggplant used is smothered. That is to say that is has already been cooked before adding to the pepper stuffing. For this recipe, simply cook 2 large, peeled and cubed eggplant in about 3tbsp oil and a ½C of water until very soft. Add more water as need to keep moist. Smothering eggplant is easy but requires constant attention because eggplant will stick to the bottom of a pot and burn almost instantly. So you must stir and reduce the heat as the eggplant soften. The whole process takes about 30-45 minutes.
Note: Several Cajun recipes call for smothered eggplant to be cooked with onions, tomatoes, bay leaf, etc. This is because smothered eggplant is usually served as a standalone side dish. Because we are using the eggplant to supplement ingredients that will be seasoned altogether, it is not necessary to season the eggplant separately.
- 6-8 Multi-colored bell peppers
- 3tbsp Olive oil
- 1lb. Ground beef
- 1med. White onion (chopped)
- 3cloves Garlic (chopped)
- 1C Dry white wine
- 2-3C Smothered eggplant
- 1lb. Louisiana shrimp (50-60 count)
- 1lb. Louisiana lump crab meat (optional)
- 2-3C Cooked white rice
- All purpose seasoning, salt, fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1C Flat leaf parsley (chopped)
- 1C Green onions (chopped)
Preheat oven to 400°
Cut the tops off of the pepper and remove the seeds and veins.
Note: It may be necessary to trim the bottom of the peppers so that they stand upright.
Place oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat.
Brown ground beef, add onions and garlic, and cook until onions are translucent. (7-10 minutes)
Add eggplant, wine, and shrimp; cooking until shrimp are just pink. (5-7 minutes)
Stir in spoonfuls of rice until mixture is thick enough to hold it shape when dished. Stir in crab meat.
Season with all purpose seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste.
Stir in green onions and parsley.
Fill the peppers and stand, not touching, on a foil lined sheet pan.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Let stand for 5 minutes and serve.
Simply perfect bell peppers
The moist, rich, spicy filling matched perfectly with the crisp pepper. The fresh pepper flavor is prominent throughout the stuffing and brings to mind the freshness of the summer garden.
The seafood is luxurious and lends its briny flavor to the rich dish. While this recipe is different from the traditional Cajun stuffed bell pepper recipes, it is simple to prepare and delicious.