Thursday, August 14, 2014

Stuffed Banana (Pepper) Boats

Most summers, by this time in August we are tired of eating vegetable suppers.  Peas, okra, sliced tomatoes, summer squash, green beans and corn usually make up the bulk of our summer evening diet.  This year though, things have been a little different.  We have been to the lake__a lot, and I just don't do serious cooking when we are there. There are things I had rather be doing there than chop veggies. (Like watching boats go by while I am reading)  I am uncertain what my excuse for lackadaisical weekday cooking is, but give me a sec and I will think of one for that too!

 We do continue to eat out of the freezer in a futile attempt to use everything in there while right at the same time I am filling it back with this summer's harvest. ( Not my personal harvest, mind you, but the labor of the farmers at the Farmer's Market.)

Boat noises woke us early last Saturday so we decided to get up and ride around until we found something interesting to do.  We wound up exploring the small town of Columbiana*  and found a small truck farm where I bought beautiful tomatoes, green beans, peaches, and banana peppers,  I am generally banana pepper indifferent but these were beautiful and freshly picked, so I had to have them. I guess I am a sucker for pretty things.

I kept them in the fridge until Monday  ( I repeat, I really do not do "real" cooking at the lake.)   We had already decided that we would love to have the beans cooked with a few new potatoes so I put them on the stove.  I was going to do something with the peppers, but had no idea what it might be.  Then I remembered my handyman's girlfriend, Jana, had mentioned something long ago about stuffing banana peppers, and thought "Why not?" Since Jana told me how she made them over a year ago, and I have a notoriously short memory for details I used whatever I could recollect then just had to wing it.

Looking through the refrigerator I found a pound of sausage that was nearing its expiration date.  I had also been to the Pig and gotten all of their "on sale" meats and had a fairly large assortment to choose from.  Because I did not want to clean get the meat grinder out, I decided to use a bit of the ground beef I had purchased.  A few other ingredients and a quick trip into the oven and dinner was virtually cooking itself. 

I sat down to read the paper and eat bon bons fold multi loads of laundry and wait for the magic to happen.  About 35 minutes later we were eating a pretty decent summer meal.

                                                         Stuffed Banana Peppers

5 medium large banana peppers
1/2 pound ground sausage
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1/8 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 tablespoons ketchup or chili sauce
1/2 cup bread Italian style bread crumbs crumbs
a few shakes of hot sauce ( I prefer Texas Pete's)

Wash the banana peppers and cut their tops off.  Make a slit lengthwise on one side only, from the cut  top, stopping about 1/2 inch from the bottom of the pepper.  Lay the peppers in the bottom of a medium baking pan, cut side up.

Mix all the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl until it is all well blended.  Stuff 1/5 of the mixture into each of peppers.  Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Uncover and let it cook for another 5-8 minutes to crisp the meat mixture.  Serve with steak sauce, ketchup, or chili sauce.  

We ate these with green beans, new potatoes, and a tomato, cucumber and vidallia  salad.  We all enjoyed it and will have it again if I can find such beautiful peppers.  The advantage to this over a stuffed bell pepper, in addition to portion control, ( the pepper and the amount of stuffing required  to fill it is substantially less than a bell pepper) is that the banana peppers have a much thinner pulp wall, so the pepper flavor was complimentary rather than the primary flavor.  I wish I had thought to do them sooner.  It might just be my new preferred way to eat stuffed peppers.

This is something we will try again soon.  I think I would like it a little better if it had a few more vegetables in it.  Next time I will add some chopped mushrooms and grated carrots to the meat mixture.
This amount of filling filled all 5 of the peppers.  I might have to adjust the meats or breadcrumbs down just a bit if I increase the vegetable amounts.

I am not always a big fan of cheese on meats, but TheHub and Son2 both thought some grated pepper jack would have been a fantastic addition to the top of it.  I will be happy to accommodate their tastes next time.

This recipe served 3.  Both guys ate 2 peppers each, but I was fine with just 1.

*Columbiana has a lovely small winery about 1 mile outside of town.  It also has 2 fantastic resale shops loaded with just about whatever suits your fancy.  Since it is in a small town with low overhead the prices are incredible.  It is worth the time to run by and check out the town.  If you do happen by and it's a weekend, give me a call.  It is just 10 minutes from the lake and we are always ready for company there. ( Unless you want something cooked and then it is a good idea to bring something with you since I don't do real cooking at the lake.)


  1. My sister has extra banana peppers in her garden. I'll pass this along to her.

  2. It would be a good way to use the excess. I wonder if they could be stuffed and frozen?