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I have this cousin-in-law, Nadia, a great cook from a family of great cooks. Her dad is Italian, her mom is Ukrainian, and she grew up in NYC, cooking and eating great food. One afternoon, Nadia offered to teach me to make her Italian Sausage and Peppers. Even though I try to avoid pasta and cheese, I knew there was only one right answer to this offer: yes. This was an occasion worthy of the exposure to what I sometimes refer to as ‘glutendairy’. It was also a time when I was able to get away with a little more glutendairy than I am now.
Learning to make Nadia’s sausage and peppers was one of my fave cheats of all time. The memory of the sauce and the sweetness of the caramelized everything haunted me with cravings, and drove me to solve this recipe in a more compliant, yet still scrumptious, way. The result? These Sausage Stuffed Mini-Peppers, complete with all the caramelized, savory goodness of the real thing.
You can avoid the funky processed ingredients found in the factory-made stuff by using my recipe for homemade Sweet Italian Sausage.
I rarely share recipes with cheese here but have found that small amounts of aged, raw-milk cheeses are easier to tolerate for some of us. If you're not one of those people, feel free to omit the pecorino romano topping.
In addition to being non-goitrogenic and low in calories, a 1 ounce serving of cooked sweet peppers contains 76% DV for vitamin C. A study recently shared in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism stated, “In patients with hypothyroidism and gastrointestinal pathology, vitamin C improves the abnormalities in serum free T4, T3, and TSH concentrations.” *Please Note* peppers are in the nightshade family for those of you avoiding them.
Garlic has many powerful healing properties and may aid or alleviate some of the symptoms of thyroid disease, such as inflammation, cardiovascular issues, decreased immunity, and increased infection. It can also support the liver in its detoxification efforts.
2 teaspoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for garnish (optional)
fine sea salt
pinch coconut sugar (optional)
freshly ground black pepper
Wash and dry mini-peppers, leaving stems intact. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add peppers and toss to coat.
Let peppers sizzle until skins are blistered and brown in spots, turning occasionally with tongs, 10 - 15 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Remove from pan and set aside to cool. Alternately, place mini-peppers under broiler, flipping once, until spotted with brown blisters on both sides.
To make the filling, add the sweet Italian sausage to the same skillet, over medium heat. Cook, breaking into small bits, until no longer pink. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon, drain and set aside.
To the drippings in the skillet, add the chopped shallot. (There should be 1 - 2 tbsp. drippings. In case of extra, discard.) Increase heat to medium-high. Season with 1/4 tsp. sea salt and a pinch of coconut sugar (optional, but it speeds the caramelization along). Saute until well-browned, adding a tablespoon or two of water (or white wine) as needed, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan to prevent scorching.
Once the shallot is well-browned (this takes about 15 minutes), stir in minced garlic, chili flakes, and balsamic vinegar.
Preheat oven to 425F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl combine caramelized shallot mixture with cooked sausage. Add parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper. It should be on the salty side. Stir in egg (this helps bind the filling but can be omitted).
Use a small paring knife to carefully cut a slit in each pepper from stem to tip (See Note 1). To fill, squeeze at stem and tail end to pop them open like an old-fashioned coin purse. Use a small spoon to stuff peppers generously with filling. You should have just enough to divide among the peppers, depending on size. (See Note 2).
Place stuffed peppers on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in oven 10-15 minutes or until tops are nicely browned and peppers feel tender. Garnish with chopped parsley and grated Pecorino Romano (optional). Serve warm and enjoy!
Don't worry about removing the small seeds from inside the peppers – you'll barely notice them and it's not worth the trouble. Also, the stems make a perfect little handle and pop off easily as you bite the pepper away.
Peppers can be prepared through to this step, and refrigerated for up to 4 hours before baking. Let them come to room temperature before placing in oven and follow baking instructions above.
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I'm Ginny, the face behind the apron here at Hypothyroid Chef. I help Thyroid Thrivers live well and eat well, so they can feel well. I specialize in gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo, and AIP recipes featuring thyroid-supportive ingredients.