March 23, 2010

Stuffed Peppers

At the end of the gardening season, if I've had a good crop of peppers, I freeze a few whole along with the sliced peppers. Peppers are unusual in that they don't have to be parboiled before freezing, which makes stuffing a frozen pepper quite simple. I love having the peppers to use in a delicious recipe from Claudia Roden's out of print cookbook, Mediterranean Cookery. She says that the stuffed peppers are eaten cold as an appetizer, but I like them warm, as my main course.

One of the ingredients, a necessary one often used in middle eastern cooking is a sour syrup, either tamarind paste or pomegranate syrup, which are available in specialty food stores and often in health food stores. Don't use sweet pomegranate juice as this will not have the sour flavor important in the recipe.

4 large or 6 medium peppers
1 1/2 cups short grain rice (I use Arborio)
1 large onion, chopped fine
4 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs pine nuts
2 Tbs currants
salt and pepper
2 Tbs tamarind paste or pomegranate syrup
2 teas sugar
large bunch of mixed parsley, mint and dill, finely chopped (I didn't have any fresh herbs when making this last night, so just used some dried mint from my garden.)
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped (I used 3 canned tomatoes)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut a small slice off the stem end of each pepper and reserve. Remove the cores and seeds.
  3. Fry the onions till golden in large saucepan; add pine nuts and when they begin to color, add the rice and stir well. Add the currants, salt and pepper.
  4. Dissolve the tamarind in 2 cups boiling water, stir in the sugar and pour over rice mixture. Add herbs and tomatoes, stir well, and cook, covered for 10 minutes. (If you use brown rice, add 3 cups water and cook for 30 minutes) The rice will be slightly hard and underdone and also very moist.
  5. Pack the filling loosely in the peppers and cover with reserved tops. Place upright in ovenproof dish. Pour 5 ounces of water around the peppers. Cover with lid or foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for 45-60 minutes more or until peppers are very soft.

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