Welcome to the end of my three-part Italian Sausage series, starting with my Homemade Sweet Italian Sausage, followed by Tomato, Sausage & Fennel Soup, and now, the finale! I’ve packed the BIG flavor of classic Italian Sausage and Peppers into these tiny little bundles of yum. They’re gluten-free, grain-free, low carb, and can easily be made Paleo by skipping the optional cheese garnish.
I have this cousin-in-law, Nadia– a great cook, from a family of great cooks. Her dad is Italian, her mom is Ukrainian, and she grew up in NYC, cooking and eating great food. When my cousin Rob married Nadia, all anyone could talk about (besides what a great couple they made) was the food. The FOOD. The fooooood. The meatballs and lasagna and borscht and oh-my-have-you-tried-her-suchandsuch?!
Last summer, a bunch of us cousins decided to posse-up on Lake Chelan for a glorious summer week of dock time. One afternoon, Nadia offered to teach me to make her Italian Sausage and Peppers. Even though I try to avoid pasta and cheese, I knew there was only one right answer to this offer: yes. This was an occasion worthy of the exposure to what I sometimes refer to as “glutendairy.” Actually, I was giddy with excitement, ready to watch and learn. (And cheat.)
“It’s all about the color, and the sauce,” she told me, casually tossing a pile of minced garlic among generous swirls of olive oil divided between two large skillets (so as not to crowd things). She let the garlic turn pale gold before adding some chunks of onion to the the sizzling pans. The kitchen began to fill with their savory aroma. Next, she added equal parts sweet and hot Italian sausage to the mix. As soon as the meat turned from pink to beige, we tossed in chopped red, and green bell pepper. There may have been some yellow in there too, but Nadia pointed out that red and green peppers, along with the white of the onion, represented the colors of the Italian flag.
“Back home at festivals,” she said in her fading New York accent, “they put the whole juicy mess into these sandwich rolls. It’s ridiculous.”
We cranked up the burners and took some time to put nice brown edges on everything– adding that critical note of caramelized sweetness to the dish. Next, we turned down the heat and covered the pans to make what Nadia called, “the sauce,” which was, in essence, the steamy cooking juices and a splash of pasta water added at the very end. This also helped us harvest the tasty brown bits from the bottom of the skillets. You could try using a splash of white wine if you’re into that sort of thing.
Finally, we scraped thewholejuicymess into a big pot of rigatoni, seasoned to taste, and sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese. It was heavenly. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Truth be told, we ended up making it again, later in the week. It was that good.
Learning to make Nadia’s sausage and peppers was one of my fave cheats of all time.
Now, you’re probably tired of hearing about a dish forbidden to those of us who don’t eat glutendairy. But wait! There’s more to the story…
When I came home, I wrote down the recipe in my trusty recipe notebook. With a twinge of sadness, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would ever be able to add it to my thyroid-friendly repertoire. I tried making it with gluten-free pasta– a disappointment. But the memory of the sauce and the sweetness of the caramelized everything haunted me with cravings, and drove me to solve this recipe in a more compliant, yet still scrumptious way.
Nadia’s sausage and peppers are the inspiration for these little beauties. I basically took my homemade Italian Sausage, amplified the flavor with richly caramelized shallot, and then stuffed it all into a pocket of roasted mini-pepper. When these babies came out of the oven, I picked up one by it’s little green handle, and bit my way right back to that stove-top with Nadia, both of us sun-baked from the dock and cooking dinner for twelve in our bathing suits. Good times…
Shallots are one of those ingredients a lot of cooks are unsure how to use. You might think of shallot as a mid-point between garlic and onion. I almost always add a bit of minced shallot to my vinaigrettes, and I adore them in dishes where I want lots of onion flavor, without all the onion bulk. In this recipe, I use them to pack lots of sweet, caramelized, oniony-goodness into a tiny package, amplifying the flavor of seared onion that is such a hallmark of Italian Sausage & Peppers.
Stuffing the peppers whole isn’t as fussy as you might think. There’s no need to remove the small amount of seeds (you’ll barely notice them), and the stems create a perfect little handle which pops right off as you bite the pepper away.
To fill, simply slit and then squeeze the pepper open like one of those old-fashioned coin purses (remember those?) and they pop right open. Next, simply pop in the filling, pop them in the oven, and them pop them in your mouth. Hmm… maybe I should be calling these Mini-Pepper-Poppers.
These stuffed peppers fall into the fun-food family. They’ll add pizazz to your parties, and give you a gluten-free pass to the big-time flavor of a classic Italian favorite.
- A 3 ounce serving of pork contains 103% DV for tyrosine, 63% DV for selenium, and 17% DV for Zinc– 3 key nutrients for thyroid health.
- In addition to being non-goitrogenic and low in calories, a 1 ounce serving of cooked sweet peppers contains 76% DV for Vitamin C. A study recently shared in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, stated that, “In patients with hypothyroidism and gastrointestinal pathology, vitamin C improves the abnormalities in serum free T4, T3, and TSH concentrations.” Read the article HERE. *Please Note* peppers are in the nightshade family for those of you avoiding them.
- Garlic has many powerful healing properties and may aid or alleviate some of the symptoms of Hypothyroidism such as inflammation, cardiovascular issues, decreased immunity, and increased infection. It can also support the liver in its detoxification efforts.
Hoping these come in handy for all those potluck barbecues and summer gatherings. If you give them a try, we’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below. Thanks so much for stopping by!
Mangia and enjoy!