Turkey or Chicken Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Serves: 8, 1 pepper each

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked pearled barley, quick barley, or rice (yes, you can use leftovers)

1-2 Tbsp Flying Olive Tuscan Herb, Garlic, a Single Varietal, or a Combination of Choice, divided

1 pound sweet Italian-style turkey or chicken sausage (I used Fresh Thyme’s Garlic, Basil, and Pepper Chicken sausage)

½ medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp Italian seasonings (I used McCormick’s Italian Spice Grinder)

¼- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper (1/2 tsp makes this a little spicy)

One 8-oz package of sliced mushrooms, roughly chopped

One 5-oz package spinach leaves, roughly chopped

2 cups marinara or your world famous spaghetti sauce, low sodium

2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated

4 red, or other colored bell peppers, cut in half from top to bottom, stem and seeds removed, and blanched in boiling water for 2 minutes.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Make the barley or rice according to package directions. When done, set aside and keep warm (NOTE: Pearled barley takes about an hour to cook).

Heat 2 tsp of Flying Olive EVOO of Choice to a skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the sausage from the casings. Crumble the sausage and add it to the pan. Brown breaking up any large pieces. When the sausage is halfway cooked, add the onion, garlic, Italian seasonings, and pepper. Cook until the onion is soft and the sausage is fully cooked, about 3-5 minutes. Remove the mixture from the skillet and set it aside.

If there is no fat in the skillet, add a little Flying Olive EVOO and heat over medium-high. Add the mushrooms to the pan. Stir them until they begin to soften and have released most of their moisture. Add the chopped spinach and cook just until it is wilted but still bright green. Add the turkey mixture back into the skillet and combine. Add the marinara sauce, barley or rice, and half the cheese. Stir until everything is well combined and warm.

On a flat surface, turn the peppers so that the inside of the pepper is “up.” Using a large spoon or cup, fill each pepper half with about ½ -1 cup of the filling. Divide a piece of aluminum foil into 8 pieces, each one large enough to cover the top of the pepper and filling. Grease a large baking pan with a little Flying Olive EVOO. Holding the foil square with your hand gently pressed on the top of the pepper, flip the pepper over, foil side down, into the baking dish.

Bake until the juices are beginning to bubble and the outside of the peppers begin to soften and wrinkle, about 25-30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven. Using a spatula, turn the peppers over onto each plate. Remove the foil, sprinkle on the cheese, and serve.

Inspired by a recipe by Jennifer Stack, The Culinary Institute, The Diabetes-Friendly Kitchen: 125 Recipes for Creating Healthy Meals, John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Hoboken, NJ, 2012.

Submitted by Barb L.