Stuffed red pointed peppers with ground beef, rice and tomato sauce.
I would say, this is pretty much the standard Eastern and Southern European way of stuffing peppers. My grandmother cooked her stuffed peppers in a similar way, I’ve eaten similar stuffed peppers cooked by Hungarian and Bulgarian cooks and this recipe is actually called Turkish Stuffed Peppers, so… there you have it.
It is definitely one of my favorite ways of eating stuffed peppers: comforting, full of childhood memories, completely satisfying. I love the sweet bitterness of the peppers, the heartiness given by the meat, the luscious, slightly sweet-sour tomato sauce and most of all the dill aroma. That reminds me of my grandmother’s cooking more than anything else in this dish. She would use liberal amounts of dill in her kitchen, not only when cooking stuffed peppers, but for many other dishes.
I remember her coming home from the market with huge dill bunches in her bag, one of those bunches was probably 10 times as large as what I usually get around here. One would think, she would not manage to use it all before it went bad, but she always did. She used it, for instance, to make this Romanian Pea and Chicken Stew, one of my favorite childhood meals or she would make scrambled eggs which contained so much dill and scallions that they were more green than yellow, she put it in vegetable soups, in the potato stews which she cooked so often and so on.
We always used to eat stuffed peppers with white bread, a staple in the Romanian kitchen, we ate bread with most anything. But since starting cooking myself, I prefer serving stuffed peppers in tomato sauce with either plain boiled potatoes or mashed potatoes. I feel they are a better and healthier match for this particular dish. But either way – with bread or potatoes – you will still love this, so go ahead and make it! 🙂 And don’t leave out the fresh dill! It just ain’t the same without it…
- For the peppers:
- 1 kg/ 2.2 lbs red pointed peppers (about 8-12, depending on size)
- 75 g/ 2.6 oz long grain rice
- 450 g/ 1 lbs lean ground beef
- 60 g/ 2.1 oz white bread, crust removed
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 medium onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill
- 1 large egg
- salt and black pepper
- For the sauce:
- 1 large onion
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 750 ml/ 2 ½ cups vegetable or beef stock
- 100 g/ 3.5 oz tomato paste
- 300 g/ 10.5 oz tomato puree
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- salt and pepper
- lots of fresh dill
- boiled or mashed potatoes to serve
- Cook the rice in salted water, drain well and let cool until you prepare the rest.
- Cut and remove the tops of the pointed peppers, discarding the seeds and the membranes as well. Soak the white bread in some water for a couple of minutes, take it out and squeeze it with your hands to remove the excess water. Chop the onion very finely and grate the garlic cloves.
- In a bowl mix the ground beef, soaked bread, cooled rice, sweet paprika, egg, onion, garlic cloves, chopped dill and salt and pepper to taste. Mix with your hand and fill the peppers with this mixture.
- For the sauce, chop the second onion and the garlic cloves very finely. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook the onions until translucent. Add the garlic and the sweet paprika and stir for one minute more.
- Add the stock, tomato paste, tomato puree, salt, pepper and sugar. Stir well and add the stuffed peppers. Cook on medium-low heat, covered, for about 20 minutes turning the peppers on the other side after 10 minutes. After the first 20 minutes, turn again, turn the heat to low and continue cooking for another 15 minutes or until the peppers are soft. It might take longer if the peppers are large, poke them with a fork to see how soft they are and prolong the cooking time accordingly, you want them to be soft.
- Adjust the taste with more salt and pepper, stir most of the chopped dill in the sauce and sprinkle the rest on top.
- Serve with boiled or mashed potatoes. The stuffed peppers are very suitable for reheating, just don't forget to stir and to turn them a couple of times in the sauce while reheating.
Others you might like: