Stuffed Peppers

My introduction to stuffed peppers was from a Ukrainian friend many years ago. It was simple, delicious and memorable. There are indeed many versions of this dish, but I love the flavors of Eastern Europe, which made this such a memorable meal.

I use a variation of colors of sweet bell peppers and this is perfect for small servings for a family of just two. This dish is not only gluten free, but egg free and iron rich with the inclusion of spinach. This caters to the dietary concerns in family. One child has an egg allergy and I want to give them an iron rich diet with the inclusion of spinach. You won’t end up making too much and if you need more, double up on the recipe.

INGREDIENTS

3 medium sized bell peppers

1 cup cooked white rice

1/2 – 3/4 pound ground meat

1 medium carrot, grated or shredded

1/2 cup chopped spinach, thawed

1 medium onion, diced thinly

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon butter

3/4 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

For sauce

1 small onion, diced thinly

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup tomato sauce

3 cups beef broth

Dash of smoked paprika

Salt and black pepper

Garnish with diced fresh parsley

INSTRUCTIONS 

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Prepare the peppers: take a sharp knife and cut around the top of the pepper, removing the core, seeds and white membrane.

2. Next, prepare the mirepoix for the filling. Melt the 2 tablespoons butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the grated or shredded carrots, diced onion and minced garlic. Saute the mixture, not browning, for about 5 minutes, until the onion and carrot is tender. Transfer the mixture into a large mixing bowl.

3. Add the rice and spinach to the same mixing bowl. Add in the seasonings, spices and herbs. Follow with ground meat. Using your hands, mix all the filling ingredients together for a few minutes, until a uniform mixture forms.

4. Fill the peppers with the prepared filling, compacting the filling into the bottom of the peppers first. Arrange the stuffed peppers in a baking dish.

5. Next, prepare the braising sauce. Using the same frying pan from earlier, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add the diced onion and saute for 3 to 4 minutes until translucent. Deglaze the pan with a cup of beef broth, then add the tomato sauce and season the sauce with a generous amount of salt, black pepper and a bit of smoked paprika. Bring the sauce up to a simmer and cook for a few minutes. Add the remaining 2 cups beef broth and bring to a simmer again.

6. Pour the simmering sauce over the arranged stuffed peppers and sprinkle the top with more dill. The liquids will come up about a 1/3 to 1/2 way up the peppers; there is no need to add additional liquids. Cover the pan with a lid or foil and place into preheated oven. Bake at 375F for 1 hour and 30 to 45 minutes; baking longer will make the peppers softer.

7. Allow the peppers to cool for about 20 minutes before serving.

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