This old-school stuffed peppers recipe was inspired by BA video host Brad Leone’s Italian American grandmother. For her, the filling mixture is sacrosanct: a combination of ground beef and pork, cooked white rice, spices including cumin and smoked paprika, walnuts for added texture, and raisins for a touch of sweetness. Meanwhile, Parmesan plays double duty: It adds a savory note to the filling and is sprinkled on top to create a nice browned and cheesy crust. Nonna Leone braised her peppers in tomato juice, not marinara or canned diced tomatoes, both to keep costs down and because those chunkier ingredients would reduce too much in the oven, burning out before the peppers are fully cooked.
If it’s your first time filling vegetables, this simple recipe (or this vegetarian one) is an excellent place to start. Red, yellow, or green bell peppers will do—just make sure they are free of soft spots or blemishes. To help them stay upright, sliver a bit off the bottom of each so the peppers sit flat in the baking dish. Fill the peppers with the meat and rice mixture to the top (and even a bit over it) since the filling will shrink as it cooks.
These stuffed bell peppers are even better made ahead of time. Invest a bit of prep time, assembling and cooking the stuffed peppers up to 2 days ahead, then refrigerate and reheat in a baking dish before serving at a Sunday supper or weeknight meal.