1 cup uncooked long grain brown rice
2 cups water
1 6–ounce can tomato paste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced and divided
3 tablespoons fresh basil, minced and divided
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced and divided
1 tablespoon fresh mint, minced and divided
4 large assorted-colored bell peppers (any assortment of red, yellow and orange)
1 small to medium green bell pepper, cut into half-inch dice
1/2 cup carrot, diced small (about one small carrot)
1/2 cup celery, diced small (about one medium stalk)
2 cups diced yellow onion, half-inch dice
1 cup diced zucchini, half-inch dice (about one medium zucchini, seeds scraped out before dicing)
1 cup diced white mushrooms, half-inch dice (about 4 ounces)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 cups baby spinach, packed and coarsely cut up
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
1 cup canned tomato puree
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated and divided
Place the rice in a pan or rice maker with the two cups of water and cook until tender covered on low, about 35-45 minutes depending on the brown rice brand. Lay out to cool on a platter and add in a little oil then mix to keep the rice from sticking. Set aside to cool.
While the rice is cooking, chop and prepare all of the other ingredients for the steps below.
Make the sauce by mixing the entire can of tomato paste, ¼ cup of the olive oil, 1 ½ teaspoons of kosher salt, ½ teaspoon of black pepper and one teaspoon each of parsley, basil, oregano and mint. Add ½ cup of hot tap water and whisk to combine. Set this aside, it does not need to be cooked.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Pick three of the most attractive looking peppers and cut with a sharp knife from top to bottom to yield six even halves. Remove seeds and membranes. You can leave the stem attached or remove. It is for looks only in the final dish.
Fill a medium pot three quarters full of water and bring to a boil. Add one teaspoon of the salt then add the six cut pepper halves and boil for 4-8 minutes or until tender but not falling apart. Check at four minutes then check every minute. They should be soft when poked but firm enough to hold up to filling. Lay them out, cut down, on paper towels to cool. Discard the water and reuse the pot to saute the vegetables.
Save the fourth colorful pepper to dice for the filling. Dice into half-inch dice along with the green bell pepper. You should have about 2 cups of the two mixed diced peppers.
In the medium pot, add the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil and over medium high heat, add the diced peppers, diced carrot, diced celery, diced yellow onion, diced zucchini, diced mushrooms, one teaspoon of salt and a half teaspoon of pepper, the remaining parsley, remaining basil, remaining oregano, remaining mint and all of the thyme and cook for four minutes.
Add the spinach and garlic and cook for two additional minutes.
Remove from the heat and add the tomato puree, 1 cup of mozzarella and ½ cup of Parmesan cheese and toss. Add the cooked rice and stir to combine.
Chose your casserole dish capable of holding the six pepper halves. A 9X13 dish would work. Spread a half cup of the sauce across the bottom.
On your counter, fill the six pepper halves, mounding and using all of the filling. Place into the prepared casserole dish and spoon the rest of the sauce over each pepper.
Top each pepper with the remaining half cup of mozzarella and the remaining quarter cup of Parmesan cheese and bake uncovered for 15 minutes.
Serve at once.
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If you use dried herbs instead of fresh, use half the amount.