There's an old saying that in real estate, the three most important things are location, location, and location. In food, presentation may not be quite as important as location in real estate, but it's definitely up there. (Just try getting a kid to eat something "healthy" that looks "icky.") So when Chef Jeannette first sent me the recipe for this delightful and unusual Halloween dish, my first thought was, "Wow, this looks great!"
But presentation means nothing if the nutrition isn't there. And the nutrition is here in spades with bell peppers-one of the best-kept secrets in the vegetable world. They're an excellent source of vitamins C and A (beta-carotene) as well as potassium and vitamin K. You can use orange or red peppers for this dish. Reds are the sweetest of the bells, and they're actually just fully ripened green peppers with a milder flavor.
This really is a super-cool meal on so many levels. It's like a "cheeseburger light" (meaning light on the starch and sugar, not on the lean, healthy meat.) Chef Jeannette used whole-grain brown rice instead of a bun, but kids will love the familiar flavors. Plus, as Jeannette pointed out to me, kids might be a lot more likely to actually eat a sweet raw pepper because it's both the "bowl" for the cheeseburger and also looks like a jack-o'-lantern! -Dr. Jonny
Traditionally, stuffed peppers are cooked, but in my experience, many kids prefer sweet, juicy raw peppers. Serving the cheeseburger mix in a crunchy red pepper "bowl" will better preserve the appealing look of the jack-o'-lantern faces while saving you time and effort in the kitchen. If you're serving younger children, let them finish the filling first and then slice the peppers into strips and offer a little dressing on the side for dipping.
If you prefer to soften the peppers up a bit, drop them gently into a pot of boiling, lightly salted water, and cook for 5 minutes. Drain well and cool slightly before stuffing and serving.
See Recipe: Cheeseburger Jack-O'-Lanterns