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Heralding the arrival of autumn, the produce shelves are groaning with sweet peppers, fire engine red and yellow lime green, sunset hues of orange and gold. Long, skinny and curvaceous, taut, squat and plump, they are full of promise. I load them into my shopping basket by the kilo. Running through my head is a pepper party, ratatouille, caponata, stuffed peppers, north African eggs, roasted pepper salad, preserved peppers, peperonata.
Stuffed vegetables are an old favourite at our dinner table, an autumn vegetable indulgence using not only peppers, but tomatoes, eggplants and golden nugget pumpkins. Stuffed red peppers had been on my mind since reading Ottolenghi’s mother’s recipe in “Jerusalem” so her recipe seemed a logical starting point, a deviation from my usual recipe. The flavours of lamb and rice with heady aromatic spice are a delicious complement to sweet vegetables so I began by making a batch of baharat, a Lebanese spice mix.
I’ve made stuffed peppers a couple of times in the last fortnight. The first batch a pretty much followed the Ottolenghi’s recipe except for the onion. I found the meat filling too firm and dry, maybe my lamb mince was too lean, so when I made the second batch I made adjustments to lighten and loosen the texture and increase the intensity of the flavour. Here’s my recipe very loosely based on the recipe published in “Jerusalem.”
8 large Romano peppers
600g tomatoes, skinned and chopped
2 large cloves garlic finely chopped
A generous sprig of fresh lemon thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup stock
100g basmati rice
500g minced lamb
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons baharat
1 tomato skinned, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons dried mint
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
2 teaspoons sea salt
Generous grinding black pepper
Peel and chop the tomatoes for the sauce. Set one tomato aside for the stuffing.
Heat the olive oil and tomatoes in a heavy lidded pan that will fit the peppers in one layer, add the, garlic, lemon thyme and stock then season generously with sea salt and pepper.
Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Boil the rice in salted water for 5 mins.
Drain the rice, refresh under cold water and set aside to cool.
Roast the baharat in a dry pan until the spices are toasty brown and fragrant.
In a large bowl weigh and measure all the other ingredients, add the rice and baharat, then using clean hands knead the meat, herbs, spices, tomato, rice and seasonings until the mixture is very well mixed.
Wash the peppers, then assess how each naturally sits and cut a slit from the stem end down, along the top edge.
Using your fingers, carefully remove the core, seeds and soft membranes. Shake any loose seeds out of the inside.
Divide the stuffing into 8 portions then gently fill the pepper cavities.
Arrange the peppers in a single layer in the sauce, then spoon a tablespoon of sauce into each pepper.
Return the sauce to the boil, cover the pan and simmer for 45 minutes, basting the peppers with sauce frequently.
Remove the peppers to a serving plate and keep warm.
Turn the heat to high under the sauce and reduce until thickened. Spoon the sauce over the peppers and serve with a simple rocket salad.
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This is a visually interesting dish and must be pleasant to the palate! I wonder if roasting the stuffed peppers would look even better?
Romano peppers are very thin fleshed. I had an issue the first time I made this dish with the stuffing being very dry so I elected to hasten the process and cook them on the stove top. They were perfect that way. If I was using sweet capsicums I’d definitely roast them
That’s a very flavorful filling you’ve prepared. These stuffed peppers would make quite a dish, I, too, wondered about Romano peppers and don’t think I’ve seen them. We do have banana peppers but they’re yellow. I do like the shape of these Romanos and think they’d be perfect for stuffing. Too often, the larger capsicums have to be cooked to death so that the filling’s center reaches temperature. These, though, are thin enough to cook evenly throughout.
Hi John, yes they are a perfect style of pepper for stuffing, thin of body (I wish) and sweet, they were much more successful than stuffed bell peppers. Keep your eyes open at the farmers market toward the end of summer, you just never know. I have myself all ready to go with a pork dish inspired by your plum jam sauce and also the braised beef cheeks. Really appreciate the inspiration!
I’ve been looking at the peppers too! Stuffed, they look very tempting, and such bright red! 🙂
Hi Sandra, I don’t usually bother with stuffed vegetables. It all seems too much effort but yours look very enticing.
Thanks Glenda, stuffed vegies are seasonal for us, something to look forward to having in Autumn.
Those are some beautiful peppers! I’ve never heard of them!
They are a fairly common Italian variety you seen here in autumn, sometimes called banana peppers or long sweet chillis, they are lime green before they turn red. They are have a mild sweet flavour, are thin skinned and the layer of flesh below is quite thin too.
I cannot wait to make these. And methinks I’ll ‘cut to the chase’ and use your slightly changed recipe without pulling out my ‘Jerusalem’ 🙂 ! Supereasy to make I love your stovetop method . . . the result looks so moreish! Now I bought my last lot shaped like this from the supermarket and they were marked as ‘banana peppers’ – they look the same, so? I still have this goofy smile on my face reading how to assess how a pepper ‘sits’ – I fully understand what you mean and so agree, but how many descriptions make this so clear 🙂 !
Thanks Eha! It was really delicious, and yes easy to make