Oven Braised Orzo Stuffed Peppers

This dish contains no oil, meat, or fish. The inspiration for this recipe came from a friend who adheres to a heart healthy, fat-free diet. His complaint was that the food that he was preparing lacked flavor. He asked me if I could conceive some recipes that would allow him to still follow his diet but taste good. Lipids (oil, meat, or fish) were out of the question.

Eight Whole Red Peppers
3/4 Pound Of Cooked Orzo Pasta
28 Ounce Can Of San Marzano Tomatoes Hand Crushed With The Can Juice
3 Ounces Of Tomato Paste
Two Teaspoons Of Red Wine Vinegar
Three Cloves Of Minced Garlic, Divided
Two Cups Of Diced Red Onions, Divided
¼ Cup Of Chopped Fresh Italian Parsley
¼ Cup Of Chopped Fresh Basil
Four Teaspoons Of Sea Salt Or Salt Substitute (Optional), Divided
Two Teaspoons Of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, Divided
1/4 Teaspoon of Ground Black Pepper

Cut off the tops of the red peppers. When cutting, slice off at about one inch from the top of each pepper. Discard the stems, the seeds and the white membranes. Dice up any useable pepper flesh and set it aside.

Combine the diced excess red pepper flesh, a cup of the red onions, two cloves of the minced garlic, two teaspoons of salt, one teaspoon of the crushed red pepper flakes, the tomato paste, the red wine vinegar, the parsley, the basil, and half of the San Marzano tomatoes in a large oven proof pot with a lid. Stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil. When it begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Allow the tomato mixture to cool for 10 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, add the cooked orzo and the tomato mixture. Mix thoroughly. Taste and add more salt, crushed red pepper flakes, and/or black pepper, if desired. Fill each red pepper with this mixture generously.

In the same pot that the tomato mixture was cooked in, add one clove of the minced garlic, a cup of the red onions, two teaspoons of salt, a teaspoon of the crushed red pepper flakes, and the other half of the tomatoes. Stir to incorporate. Add the stuffed peppers to the pot (bottoms down) and cover it with a lid.

Cook in a preheated oven set at 350 degrees for one hour.