I was recently confronted with an abundance of multi-colored bell peppers. Peppers are funny ingredient. Unlike zucchini, another prolific crop, which is easily turned into quick breads and muffins, fritters and casseroles, peppers are rarely the star of the dish. Think of sausage with peppers and onions, fajitas come with sautéed peppers and there are so many recipes that call for peppers to be chopped or diced and added to other aromatics such as onions, garlic, celery and/or carrots as the foundation of a recipe. The only time they stand on their own is as a shell for stuffing. And this is where it gets interesting.
There are so many different ingredients to choose from. Ground meat of any type is suitable and also optional. There are a multitude of grains and beans to choose from. Add chopped vegetables and herbs and moisten with a sauce and top off with some crumbled or shredded cheese and you have a delicious entrée.
Watch the Greek-Style Stuffed Peppers Video Here:
Along with the peppers, I also had a few eggplants and decided to go with a Greek-style stuffed pepper. Start by sautéing some ground lamb and diced onion with salt and pepper. Stir in garlic, oregano and just a bit of cinnamon. To keep it moist, I added a thawed pint of tomato sauce I’d made earlier in the season. Cube the eggplant and toss in couple of cups along with more of those bell peppers cut into small pieces. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes. To finish in a traditional Greek style stir in chopped Kalamata olives and crumbled Feta cheese.
While the sauce simmers, slice off the tops and remove the core, seeds and membrane and season the insides with a sprinkle of kosher salt and a grind or two of fresh pepper.
I intended to freeze the stuffed peppers in batches for future use and needed to
partially cook the yellow bell peppers that would house the filling. The pre-cooking step deactivates the ripening enzymes to ensure that the peppers retain their color, shape and flavor.
Place the prepared bell peppers upright in a baking dish. and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Pop in the microwave on high for 3 minutes or until slightly softened. Stuff each shell with the filling.
- 8 bell peppers, tops removed, seeds, ribs and stems removed, save tops
- kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 ½ cups minced onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon minced cloves garlic (3 medium cloves)
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cups eggplant, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 cup chopped bell peppers, any color
- 1 can (15.5 ounces) fired roasted tomatoes or a pint of tomato sauce
- ¼ cup chopped Kalamata olives
- ¼ cup feta cheese crumbles
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease a 9- by 13-inch casserole dish
- Lined baking sheet to catch any spills
- Season the inside of each bell pepper with a sprinkle of kosher salt and a grind or two of fresh pepper. Place upright in a baking dish.
- Note: If you are making in advance and planning to freeze, cover tightly with plastic wrap. Pop in the microwave on high for 3 minutes or just until slightly softened.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the lamb and onions, using the edge of a wooden spoon to break up the meat into a crumbly mix. Cook until the meat is no longer red.
- Stir in the oregano, garlic and cinnamon and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the eggplant, peppers and tomatoes or tomato sauce and bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the olives and feta off heat and stuff each pepper with the filling.
- Cover tightly with foil and place on a lined baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, one hour for frozen peppers.