Meatball-Stuffed Peppers with Spinach and Garlic

by Rachael Ray Show Staff 3:00 AM, February 14, 2012

Aired February 14, 2012

Serves 4 servings
EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 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 28- to 32-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Pinch of sugar
A few leaves of 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 to 1 1/2 cups
1 pound ground veal or 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

Preheat oven to 425F.

Heat 2 tablespoons EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, in a saucepot. Add sliced garlic and stir 1-2 minutes. Add onion, bay and tomatoes; break them up with a spoon and season with salt, pepper, and sugar. Simmer 25-30 minutes at a low bubble to thicken and break down tomatoes. Remove onion and bay, stir in a couple of leaves of sweet basil. If sauce thickens too quickly, add a splash of water.

Drizzle peppers with EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Roast 20 minutes, remove and cool to handle.

Cover bread with milk in a small bowl to soak.

Heat remaining olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Lightly brown and crumble meat with the chopped garlic then transfer to a bowl and cool. Wring out the bread and crumble into crumbs. Add to meat along with eggs and spinach. Season with salt, pepper and a few grates of nutmeg. Add cheese and 1 cup of tomato sauce, and mix to combine. Fill peppers with meat mixture and smooth off the tops. Pour remaining sauce around and over peppers, sprinkle with a little more cheese and roast 20-25 minutes.