Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back to family favorites

Fortuitously, the bell peppers are ready to harvest for Nora's last dinner at home before she's off to Europe. Stuffed green peppers are another dish that I learned from my mother, and I think one of the ones that I've duplicated her recipe, from memory, the best. I almost never make this from store bought peppers for some reason, but only in late summer from the garden grown ones. I really wanted all of the vegetables to come from the garden this year, but the onions didn't do well, I chickened out on growing potatoes, (and I just didn't think it would be the same with turnips, which are too bitter for this dish).

This dish falls under the comfort food category in our household, as it's a huge favorite with everyone. You can tell it's Greek because you end up using every pot in the house to make it.

Stuffed Bell Peppers
(for 4)

• 5-6 large green peppers
• 1 pound chop meat
• 2 medium potatoes, diced
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 2 cups tomato sauce
• 1 large tomato, diced
• fresh or dried parlsey
• fresh or dried mint
• salt and pepper

Cut off the tops of the peppers (save these) and clean out the seeds. Blanch the peppers by immersing them for about 5 minutes in boiling water. Drain and arrange in a casserole (make sure you use a casserole with a cover). Set aside.

Cook the rice per package instructions. Please do not use minute rice or I will have to cry. Extra long grain or basmati is fine. Boil the diced potatoes until just soft.

Saute the onions in about a quarter cup of water; cook until transparent, or until all moisture has boiled away, whichever comes first. Add the chop meat and sauté until completely brown. Add herbs about half way through. Once the rice and potatoes are done, mix them together with the meat. Add the diced tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Fill each pepper to the rim with the meat/rice mixture, and put its top back on. With any leftover meat fill in the casserole so that the peppers are sitting in a bed of meat/rice mixture. Pour the tomato sauce over the top. Cover and bake in a 350F/175C oven for 30 minutes.

For a vegetarian version, substitute pine nuts and blanched raisins for the meat. A Facebook friend also sent a wonderful recipe for polenta-stuffed peppers. I'll post it when I try it.

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