Greeked Out Stuffed Peppers

It may not come as a surprise to you that I come from a food family. That is, to be precise, a long lineage of people who love to cook, eat, and talk about cooking and eating. At 98-years-old, my Great Nana was probably the only person in her nursing home who actively critiqued the cuisine, convinced that the disproportionate amount of pasta clearly pointed to an Italian in the kitchen. Relishing with sighs and closed eyes the baked lobster and fish chowder we’d bring in, sweet little Harriet would scarf it down faster than a woman 70 years her junior and never get enough. This is the gene pool from whence my mom and I came. 

Mom (we’ll call her HH) and I talk a lot of shop about kitcheny things, but I was especially intrigued when she told me about some stuffed peppers she recently made. Stuffed peppers are among those things that you know are good, you’ve always liked them, but for some reason you never think to make. Mom did the traditional pepper, with spiced ground beef, tomatoes, onions and rice, but with the addition of farro for a nice earthy twist of flavor. I decided to try my hand at a similar version that makes some basic substitutes to “Greek it up”.

The Vibe: Pseudo Greek with fun individual servings, oh my!

The Time Commitment: T minus 90 minutes (not including ingredient wrangling)

The Must Have’s:

  • 5 Bell Peppers (Duh)
  • 1 lb ground lamb (Note: if you don’t love lamb, #1, you’re insane, #2, try an optional substitute for ground turkey. Maybe get crazy, do half and half.)
  • 1 cup dry brown rice
  • 1/2 cup amaranth grain, quinoa, farro or any rando grain you find intriguing
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup raisins or currants
  • 1/2 cup wheat breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Crumbled feta cheese

The Process:

  • Cut the tops off of your peppers, and pull out the guts
  • Lay peppers down in stock pot or deep sauté pan and submerge 2/3 with water

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  • Bring water to a boil, and cook peppers for 7 to 10 minutes, until outer skin begins to soften. When finished, remove from water and set into an oiled glass baking dish, open side up. Side note, these things are getting stuffed with stuff in a minute here, so better to leave them more solid if you’re unsure. 
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Here is how they should look when they’re done. Sturdy, but soft. Like a good teddy bear or man.
  • Combine brown rice and amaranth grain together in rice cooker, and begin cooking. You can do it on the stove if you’re a glutton for punishment
  • Chop onions and olives finely and set aside
  • Heat up a saute pan on medium with a healthy amount of olive oil – let’s say two tablespoons
  • Slice cherry tomatoes in half, chop garlic, and add to the hot pan

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  • After three minutes, turn the heat down to medium-low and cover for another five minutes until they get a little soupy

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  • Scrape tomatoes and garlic to mixing bowl and return pan to heat
  • Add meat, onion, and olives and cook ten minutes or until meat is gray but juice remains in the pan
  • Combine meat mixture and tomatoes to mixing bowl and stir
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See the nice juice in the bottom? Your breadcrumbs will soak all of that up.
  • Stir in the breadcrumbs, and add cooked rice a half cup at a time – keep an eye on the ratio – you don’t want too much rice.
Thick consistency, still moist but holds together. This is what you're going for.
Thick consistency, still moist but holds together. This is what you’re going for.
  • Add raisins, spices, and red pepper to your liking. If you want to get crazy, squeeze a little bit of ketchup in there for an acid element.
  • Scoop the mixture into your pepper shells – the fun part!!

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    • Pack a healthy dose of feta cheese on top of each pepper and bake 40 minutes or until feta is brown and pepper skin is wrinkling

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  • Remove from oven, let cook, and serve! Enjoy!
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