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Meatball-Stuffed Peppers with Spinach and Garlic

Meatball-Stuffed Peppers with Spinach and Garlic


  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), for drizzling, plus 4 tablespoons, divided

  • 6 cloves garlic, 2 thinly sliced, 4 minced or finely chopped

  • 1 small onion, peeled and halved

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 can San Marzano tomatoes (28-32 ounces)

  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (14 ounces)

  • Salt and pepper

  • A pinch of sugar

  • A few leaves of fresh basil, torn

  • 4 red bell peppers, tops removed, seeds scraped and bottoms trimmed to sit upright

  • 4 1/2-inch-thick slices good-quality white bread or Italian bread, crusts trimmed

  • Whole milk, for soaking bread, 1-1 1/2 cups

  • 1 pound ground veal or ground lamb or meatloaf mix (beef, pork and veal)

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1 box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, drained well and finely chopped

  • Freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus some for topping peppers (a handful)


Pre-heat the oven to 425°F. Heat 2 tablespoons EVOO, two turns of the pan, in a saucepot. Add the sliced garlic and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add the onion, bay leaf and tomatoes; break them up with a spoon and season with salt, pepper and sugar. Simmer for 25-30 minutes at a low bubble to thicken and break down the tomatoes. Remove the onion and bay; stir in a couple of leaves of the basil. If the sauce thickens too quickly, add a splash of water. Drizzle the peppers with EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes; remove and cool to handle. Cover the bread with milk in a small bowl to soak. Heat the remaining EVOO, two turns of the pan, in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Lightly brown and crumble the meat with the chopped garlic, then transfer to a bowl and cool. Wring out the bread and crumble into crumbs. Add to the meat along with the eggs and spinach. Season with salt, pepper and a few grates of nutmeg. Add the cheese, top with 1 cup of tomato sauce and mix to combine. Fill the peppers with the meat mixture and smooth off the tops. Pour the remaining sauce around and over the peppers, sprinkle with a little more cheese and roast for 20-25 minutes. This is one of many "Yum-o!" recipes – it's good and good for you. To find out more about Yum-o!, Rachael's nonprofit organization, visit