Former royal chef Darren McGrady said he used to make stuffed bell peppers for Princess Diana while she lived at Kensington Palace.
In a 2014 interview with HuffPost’s Rebecca Adams, former royal chef Darren McGrady explained that Princess Diana focused on a healthy lifestyle after overcoming bulimia. McGrady told the outlet that Princess Diana began shifting towards a fat-free diet while living at Kensington Palace.
“I want you to take care of all of the fat. I’ll take care of the carbs at the gym,” Princess Diana said.
After I enjoyed Princess Diana’s favorite dessert — bread and butter pudding by McGrady — I decided to try the stuffed bell pepper recipe! While the recipe requires quite a bit of prep work for the filling, the actual cooking process took almost no time, and it was simple to make as a home cook. The recipe is available in McGrady’s book, “Eating Royally: Recipes and Remembrances from the Palace Kitchen.”
To make, you’ll need:
- 4 medium red bell peppers
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ cup roughly chopped onion
- 1 cup finely sliced button mushrooms
- 1 zucchini, diced
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 cup rice, cooked until al dente and cooled
- ½ cup water
- ½ chicken or vegetable stock cube
- 4 slices smoked bacon, broiled crispy and chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh basil, shredded
- 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, diced
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare the bell peppers.
To start, cut the tops off of each bell pepper before cleaning out the seeds and membranes inside. McGrady wrote in his cookbook that if the bell peppers don’t stand up correctly, cut small pieces off the bottom until they do.
Next, place the peppers on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, making sure to coat it thoroughly. Don’t be afraid to get olive oil inside the peppers because you’ll need to use that same oil later in a frying pan.
Bake the peppers in the oven for about 25 minutes (or until they’ve begun to soften), and then remove them from the oven to cool.
Begin prepping the vegetables, rice, bacon, and cheese bits for the stuffed bell peppers filling.
Since this will take up the bulk of your time, I suggest beginning this process before baking the bell peppers or while they’re in the oven.
Broil four slices of smoked bacon in the oven, shred one tablespoon of basil, cook one cup of rice, dice four ounces of mozzarella cheese, and dice one cup of zucchini.
The recipe said to chop the bacon into smaller pieces once they’re broiled. It also said to cook the rice until al dente and let it cool, by setting it to the side. The term “al dente” in this recipe refers to boiling the rice so it’s firm to the bite and not too soft in texture.
Pour the oil from the bell peppers into a frying pan.
As previously mentioned, McGrady’s recipe said to use the olive oil from the bell peppers to sauté the vegetables.
Now, it’s time to add everything to the frying pan!
I felt like I was making a simple one-pot meal instead of a royal recipe, but I guess that’s part of its charm. At this point, add the onions, mushrooms, zucchini, and oregano into the pan to sauté over high heat until the vegetables begin to soften. Use the salt and pepper to season, but feel free to add more or less depending on your taste.
Then, add the tomatoes, rice, water, bouillon cube — I chose the chicken flavor — and let the mixture simmer for five minutes.
Around this point, a delicious smell began to waft across my kitchen, and there are very few smells I love more than sauteed onions.
Drop the remaining ingredients into the frying pan and mix them with the rice.
McGrady said to take the final ingredients — bacon, basil, and mozzarella cheese — and fold them into the rice mixture.
I’d like to give my compliments to the chef for this delicious meal!
Although I did the heavy lifting on these stuffed bell peppers, McGrady’s recipe does a wonderful job of staying reasonably healthy while mixing in tons of flavors.
The rice with the added chicken bouillon may have been one of my favorite combinations, but next time I’m going to use granulated chicken bouillon instead of cubed, so it distributes more evenly.
Another standout in the dish was the melted mozzarella cheese, which added a light but gooey aspect to the recipe that I really enjoyed.
I’d recommend this recipe to anyone who loves a good stuffed bell pepper recipe or busy folks who need a simple meal to make after a long day at work.