Saturday, July 30, 2011

Stuffed Peppers & Tomatoes (Stuffed Veggies Turkish Style)

Stuffed Peppers and Tomatoes Turkish Style

Turkish style stuffed vegetables are a fabulous addition to anyone's culinary repertoire - so perfect for parties and special occasions. My volunteer pepper plant from last year produced a bumper crop of peppers this year. Compared to the gargantuan ones sold in markets, our home-grown ones were quite a bit smaller and reminded me of the small stuffed peppers we enjoyed while vacationing in Turkey. Since I wanted to make something special with them, stuffed peppers sounded just right!

Turkey was an amazing place; besides visiting historic and scenic places, we also had fabulous food everywhere. Turkish cuisine has such a wonderful way with the fresh vegetables, we were never left wanting. The restaurants and cafes we frequented had abundant varieties of vegetarian food no matter where we went. Stuffed veggies were one of the delicious offerings that we adored eating.

Although we only saw stuffed peppers and tomatoes in Turkey, zucchinis, eggplants, and Swiss chard also make delicious cases for the flavorful filling. Eggplants will need precooking until just tender before filling.

Here is my almost Turkish stuffed veggies; I have added a few veggies to make this a more hearty dish. The filling is quite delicious by itself if you cook it until the rice is completely cooked. In fact it is so good that I plan to make double batch so that there will still be plenty left after filling the veggies. Served with yogurt, stuffed veggies make a very satisfying and filling dish. I have no doubts that I will prepare this dish again as everything was eaten very quickly including the leftover filling :D.

About 6 servings


Vegetables for filling: 8 - 12 Peppers and/or Tomatoes depending on their size

1 cup short/medium grain Brown Rice
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 large Onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of fresh Garlic, minced (optional)
a few grinds of freshly ground Black Pepper
3/4 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 Carrot, finely chopped
1 Zucchini, finely chopped
2 medium Tomatoes, chopped (omit if using tomatoes as cases)
1 cup Peas, fresh or frozen
4 Tbsp flat leaf Parsley, chopped
a few sprigs fresh Mint, chopped (about 2 Tbsp)


Wash the rice and drain; add 1 cup of water and let soak.

Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onions and garlic with a pinch of salt until softened.

Decant the water from rice and reserve.

Stir in the freshly ground pepper, carrots, and the drained rice and cook stirring until rice begins to get a little toasted - about 5 minutes or so.

Stir in the reserved water, turmeric, tomatoes and salt to taste; if using tomatoes as cases, add the scooped out flesh and juices. When you use tomatoes as cases, just use the flesh and juices from scooping out. Cook on low heat until all of the water is absorbed - about 10-15 minutes.

Stir in the zucchini, peas, parsley and mint; leave covered until cool enough to handle.

While the filling is cooling, cut the tops off the peppers and tomatoes; save the tops. Scoop out the seeds and ribs from the peppers carefully and discard. Scoop out the flesh and seeds of the tomatoes and reserve to use in the filling. Allow the tomatoes to drain any fluids by setting them with the cut sides down.

Brush the bottom of a shallow cooking pan that will hold the filled veggies snugly with a little oil.

Using a small spoon, fill the vegetables and carefully set them upright in the cooking pan and put their tops back on. Continue to fill all the veggies and arrange them snugly in the pan.

Pour a cup of water carefully into the pan, cover and cook for about 20 minutes on low heat; most of the water should have been cooked out. Check a few times during cooking to make sure the veggies do not dry out or burn; if necessary, add a little water to the pan.

When the veggie and the rice in the filling are soft, the dish is ready. Turn off heat and allow to rest for a few minutes.

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!!

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