We’ve never made stuffed peppers and rarely, if ever, eat them, but the phrase “deconstructed stuffed pepper” immediately came to mind when we tasted this delicious one-pot dish. Except we like this version way better than the traditional stuffed pepper, since the ratio of pepper to sausage to rice is more evenly balanced, and the deconstructed version is really easy to make (and eat). We adapted this recipe and used turkey sausage and brown rice to make it a little more healthy without sacrificing any of the flavor. This new favorite earns a spot in our weeknight meal rotation, especially during winter months when we’re craving a big pot of Italian comfort food.
In addition to red bell pepper, the recipe calls for a “cubanelle” pepper. I found one in our local grocery store, but you could use a poblano pepper (or some other mild green pepper) if you can’t find cubanelle. Cut off the stem end of the pepper, then cut all the sides away from the inner ribs and seeds. Slice the side pieces into thin strips.
Slice an onion and red bell pepper into thin strips as well.
The original recipe calls for whole fennel seeds. Fennel can be a pretty strong flavor – perhaps a little too strong if you bite into a whole seed. So I crushed the seeds a bit using the back of a spoon. You could also use a mortar and pestle to crush them.
Place the sausages in a Dutch oven (or other heavy-bottomed pot) and add about half a cup of water (you want there to be half an inch or so of water in the pot) and a couple teaspoons of olive oil. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-high and simmer until the water cooks away and the sausages begin to brown. We used Italian hot turkey sausage because it has a lot of flavor without being too spicy, but you could use sweet/mild sausage if you prefer. Pro Tip: Cook the sausages whole, and do not attempt to remove the casing prior to cooking, or you may end up with a pile of mushy raw turkey sausage, un-usable for this particular dish. (Why anyone would think it would be necessary to remove the casing, I couldn’t say.)
Remove the sausages to a cutting board and set aside. Add a little more olive oil to the pot if needed, then add the crushed fennel seeds and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant — about 30 seconds. Add the peppers, onion and a dash of salt and cook over medium-high heat until the veggies begin to soften — about 8-10 minutes.
When the sausage cools a bit, cut it into small pieces.
Stir the tomato paste and garlic into the pot and cook for about a minute.
Add the chicken stock to the pot, scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot and cook for a few minutes. Then add the tomatoes with their juices. The original recipe calls for a can of “tomato sauce or stewed tomatoes.” We used canned cherry tomatoes, which worked very well. Diced tomatoes would also work well. Cook the mixture until the tomatoes begin to soften — about 2-3 minutes.
Return the sliced sausage to the pot and cook for a few minutes to reheat. Keep an eye on the level of liquid in the pot and add a little more chicken stock if necessary, depending on how thick (or thin) you prefer your sauce.
Serve the sausage and peppers over cooked brown rice. The flavors of the Italian sausage and the peppers with a hint of spice combine well with the sweet, rich tomatoes, while the rice provides texture to tie the dish together. If you like stuffed peppers even a little bit, we predict that you will love this deconstructed version.
Turkey Sausage, Peppers & Onion One-Pot
- 1 to 1 ½ pounds Italian hot turkey sausage (or sweet/mild)
- olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cubanelle pepper (or other mild green pepper), cored and thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ cup chicken stock
- 1 (15 oz.) can cherry tomatoes (can also used diced tomatoes)
- cooked brown rice for serving
- Place the sausages in a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot and add about ½ cup water (enough to have ½ inch of water in the bottom of the pot) and a couple teaspoons of olive oil to the pot. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-high and simmer until the water cooks off and the sausages begin to brown. Remove the sausages to a cutting board and set aside.
- Add another teaspoon or so of oil to the pot if needed, then add the fennel seeds and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant – about 30 seconds. Add the peppers and onion with a dash of salt and cook until the veggies begin to soften – about 8-10 minutes. While the veggies cook, cut the sausages into small pieces.
- Add the garlic and tomato paste to the pot and cook for about a minute. Add the chicken stock and deglaze the bottom of the pot, then cook for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pot and cook until the tomatoes begin to soften – about 2-3 minutes.
- Return the sausage to the pot and cook for a few minutes to reheat. Keep an eye on the level of liquid in the pot and add more chicken stock as needed.
- Serve over cooked brown rice.