This recipe for Middle Eastern-style Stuffed Peppers fits one my goals this year: to incorporate more plant-based recipes into our diet, and to cut back on meat.
Eastern cuisines often feature meatless meals. It makes sense to look for inspiration from these cooking styles, notably for their use of fragrant spices, dried fruits, fresh herbs, nuts, and grains to achieve satisfying dishes.
While scanning an old copy of Kitchen Garden magazine (October/November 1998), I came across this recipe for Stuffed Turkish Peppers, by Kathy Gunst.
Ground nuts added to cooked rice makes this a perfect main dish meal.
The recipe was easy enough, and I had most of the ingredients on hand.
I tweaked the recipe ingredients and procedures a bit to fit my pantry and attention span.
Best of all, the peppers taste even better the second day, so they are perfect for making ahead of time.
Middle Eastern-style Stuffed Peppers
- 3 c. cooked rice
- 6 bell peppers
- 1 c. cashews or walnuts, coarsely ground
- 1 c. raisins, dried apricots (chopped), and/or craisins
- ½ c. onions, chopped
- 2 ½ tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper optional
- 2 tsp coriander, ground
- 2 tsp cumin, ground
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
- ⅓ c. mint, fresh, chopped substitute 1 tbsp dried if necessary
- ¼ c. lemon juice
- 2 ½ c. tomato puree
- Cook 1 1/2 c rice to make about 3 c. cooked rice. Cool.
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Finely chop or coarsely grind nuts. Set aside.
- If using dried apricots, chop the into small pieces.
- Clean and hollow out the peppers. Slice a thin bit from the bottom of each pepper so that they will stand upright. Try not to pierce through the bottom of the peppers. Set peppers in a baking dish.
- Heat 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add the onions and saute about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and saute briefly until fragrant but not brown.
- Add remaining olive oil, salt and pepper, dried fruits, and dried seasonings to the pan. Stir and continue to saute about 1 minute.
- In a large bowl, combine cooked rice with cooked onion mixture. Stir in fresh mint, lemon juice, and ground nuts.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
- Stir about 1 c. tomato puree into the bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Firmly pack peppers with stuffing.
- Pour remaining tomato puree into bottom of baking dish around the stuffed peppers. Add 1/2 c. water.
- Bake for 30-45 minutes, occasionally basting tops of peppers with tomato juice.
- Check that stuffing is heated through to the center. Serve immediately, or store in refrigerator and reheat at 350°.
If you are looking for side dishes to serve with Middle Eastern-style Stuffed Peppers, try Easy Veggies for Every Day.