Monday, October 13, 2014

Turkish (or maybe Greek?) Stuffed Peppers

Turkish cooks are experts at stuffing all sorts of vegetables. This recipe is a mash-up of a classic Turkish vegetable stuffing and some Greek flavors. It's not so crazy; they are neighbors.

The filling itself is easy. Stuffing peppers isn't that hard either. But, it all takes a while, particularly the cooking of the peppers. You need to braise them a long time until they are tender. The great thing is they reheat well so you can make a panful and have a quick meal by throwing a pepper in the microwave.

The filling contains short-grain rice (such as sushi rice) which is stickier. It holds together as a stuffing better than long-grain rice.

Stuffed Peppers
(serves 6)

6 large bell peppers, whatever color you like
4 Tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons raisins or dried currants, soaked for 5 minutes in hot water
1 10-12 oz. package frozen chopped spinach
1 ¼ cups short grain rice
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
juice of 1 lemon
stock or water

Cut off the top of the peppers as high as you can to leave a large cavity. Remove the core and seeds. If the peppers won't stand up straight, you can take a very thin slice off the bottom to make them flat. Then they won't tip over in the pan. Set aside the peppers.

Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a large covered skillet or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook for 10 minutes until onions are soft but do not brown them. Drain the raisins. Add raisins and spinach and raise the heat to medium. Cook until spinach has thawed. Add the rice, ¾ teaspoon salt, pepper, and 1 ½ cups of water or stock. Stir to mix, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Mix in herbs and cheese. Taste the filling and add more salt if needed. If the filling is bland, it will be even blander after steaming for nearly an hour so season well.

Season the insides of the peppers with salt. Fill each pepper with stuffing. When you have used up all the stuffing, wipe out the pan and place the peppers in the same pan (you don't want to have to do more dishes, do you?). Pour enough stock or water into the pan to cover the bottom of the pan. If you are using water or unsalted stock, add ½ teaspoon of salt to season it. Drizzle the lemon juice and the remaining olive oil over the peppers. Put on their tops. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, just enough to maintain a simmer. Cover the pan and steam the peppers for about 50 minutes until quite tender. If you pierce one with a knife, it won't resist at all.

Serve hot or at room temperature. A little bit of extra virgin olive oil, chopped fresh parsley and/or dill, or crumbled cheese are all nice garnishes. I also like it for breakfast, topped with a fried egg.

No comments:

Post a Comment