To some people, onions, green bell peppers, and celery are just random vegetables that you pick up from the local grocery store or farmers market. To me - and other like-minded native south Louisianians - these three veggies are the epitome of our Cajun/Creole food culture. Some call them the 'holy trinity,' while others like myself refer to them as the 'Cajun trinity' or simply 'the trinity."
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I start almost all of my Cajun/Creole dishes by caramelizing the trinity. But my love, affection, and use for them does not stop there. They are so instrumental to almost every dish that I make that I almost always have them on hand. And, when I am out of one or more of them, I can almost literally feel their absence from my kitchen and my culinary spirit.
One day while holding one of each in my hands, I decided that the Cajun trinity wasn't just a seasoning starter for other dishes...nope. They are stand-alone vegetables, and they deserve to be the star of the dinner show for once. So, I did what any self-respecting south Louisianian who had this thought would do. I stuffed them...yep.
The Stuffed Cajun Trinity
Although a bit time consuming at first, the stuffed Cajun trinity is pretty easy to make. Gluten free, and Paleo if you skip the cheese, these stuffed peppers, onions, and celery stalks are a whole new way to enjoy the time-cherished trio.
I am honestly sharing this dish with you out of the depths of my heart and soul. I need the trinity. I can't live without it. It's as much a part of me as my big curly hair or my penchant for fluttering dragonflies. If you're from here, you know exactly what I mean. If you're not, you really do want to know exactly what I mean, trust me.
Once you have the ground beef and shrimp stuffed celery, onions, and peppers once, I'm sure that you'll just have to have them again and again, just like me. C'est bon...
- Boiled Cajun Trinity Shells
- 3 celery stalks whites and tops trimmed
- 3 medium onions peeled and stems cut off
- 3 medium green bell peppers tops, seeds and white inner membranes removed
- A few shakes Tabasco or salt pepper, and cayenne pepper, optional
- Marinated Gulf Shrimp
- ½ pound small Gulf shrimp peeled and deveined
- 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley leaves
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Red Gravy Stuffing
- 1 pound ground beef or ground beef/ground pork mixture
- 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
- 2 crumbled dried parsley leaves
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 2 to 4 shakes Tabasco optional
- salt pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste
- 2 cups gluten free tomato sauce
- crumbled Parmesan cheese optional
- chopped fresh green onion and/or chopped fresh parsley for garnish optional
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Boil celery stalks for 4 minutes. Remove and drain over a colander.
- Boil bell peppers for 5 minutes and onions for 10 minutes. When onions cool, scoop out inner flesh with a melon ball or spoon, leaving the two to three outer layers intact. Chop about half of the flesh, save remaining for another dish.
- Marinate shrimp with 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves, dried parsley leaves, and garlic powder.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Lay vegetables on the bottom of a large cast iron Dutch oven, or sheet pan.
- Brown ground beef. When halfway browned, add boiled and chopped reserved onion and SP&C to taste. Drain.
- Return to pot and add tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves, crumbled bay leaves, Tabasco, and/or SP&C to taste.
- Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until the tomato sauce deepens into a crimson color. Add marinated shrimp, remove from heat.
- Use a small spoon to evenly distribute the stuffing among the peppers, onions, and celery.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until heated through and tops of stuffing begin to brown.
- Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired, before serving as a main or side dish.
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