Happy Saturday! Can you hear my sigh of relief?
I am sure I’m not the only one who looks forward to the weekend. And typically, I don’t write on Saturdays, but I decided I must share my stuffed bell pepper recipe. You can easily make these for supper tonight, or surprise your friends for Cinco de Mayo!
Cinco de Mayo marks a special day of pride and victory for my Mexican friends; and I do so celebrate with them. But I also celebrate Cinco de Mayo as the day I had my first baby.
More accurately, I celebrate Cinco de Mayo as the day everything changed (or was about to, anyway).
I did not immediately become a different a person, but having my first baby was the start of a life-long transformation. A transformation from being self-centered to humbly learning to center my life around others. And in so doing, loving life all the more!
I won’t be writing to you on Tuesday as I typically do. Instead, I will pause to mark Cinco de Mayo, 2015 as my daughter’s 13th birthday.
Many of us, at least in the United States, are familiar with Mexican stuffed peppers. My quick Google search confirmed how popular stuffed peppers are. I keyed in “stuffed pepper recipe,” and on that particular day, my search yielded 4,460,000 such recipes!
Yes, highlighted so prominently were Mexican stuffed peppers with the usual suspects of Mexican rice with black beans, corn and melted shredded cheese beautifully crowning the peppers. Delicious! There were also many variations boasting contemporary twists like quinoa and even freekeh!
It didn’t take me long to realize that stuffed peppers were not–as I was brought up to believe–only a thing of Egypt or the Mediterranean.
My mom would have prepared this dish, Egyptian-style, using only green peppers cooked in plenty of tomato sauce.
While I love mom’s stuffed peppers, I still took charge as the master of my own kitchen. What fun is it to make things exactly as mother would? 🙂
First, of course a variety of colorful bell peppers is far better! My hubby prefers red peppers for their sweetness. Secondly, I decided to cook a rice mixture with spiced ground beef, chickpeas, parsley and a hint of red sauce. On its own, this rice mixture was a tasty little feats; but even better stuffed in my peppers!
But my brilliant thought of the day was to grill the peppers first. I love all-things-charred, don’t you? 10-15 minutes on the gas grill added just the right amount of char and smokiness. I finished things off briefly in the oven. Of course, if you prefer not to mess with the grill, feel free to skip this part and just increase the cooking time in the oven.
I’ve talked too much already about how I made these stuffed peppers. Let’s just get to it, shall we?
Step-by-step for stuffed belled pepper recipe:
In a medium heavy pot, heat 1 tbsp of oil. Saute the chopped onions until golden. Now add the meat and cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until deeply browned. Season with salt, pepper, allspice and garlic powder. Stir in the chickpeas and cook briefly.
To the same pot, now add the parsley, rice, paprika and tomato sauce; stir to combine. Add the water and bring to a high simmer until liquid has reduced by one half. Turn the heat to low. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked and no longer hard nor too chewy.
While the rice is cooking, heat a gas grill to medium-high. Grill the bell peppers for 10-15 minutes, covered. Be sure to turn the peppers occasionally so that all sides get charred. Remove from the grill and let cool briefly.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Assemble the bell peppers, open-side up, in a baking dish filled with 3/4 cup broth or water. Spoon in the cooked rice mixture to stuff each of the peppers to the very top.
Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and place it in the 350 degree F heated oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and garnish with more parsley, if you like. Serve immediately with your favorite salad and a side of Greek yogurt.