I have made variations of these Turkish-inspired stuffed peppers for years. The version I give here includes meat, but they are 100% delicious without it.
Any extra stuffing that doesn't fit in a pepper could be mounded in a hollowed-out zucchini, heaped on a slice of eggplant, or simply eaten as a treat.
Recipe by Maurita from 37 Cooks.
- Heat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit.
- Place the cooked and cooled rice in a large bowl, and separate by stirring well. Cut the tops of the peppers off for stuffing, and clean them inside. If needed, cut a very thin slice off the bottom so they'll stand up. Put the peppers in a baking dish that is about as deep as the peppers are tall.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over moderate heat. Add the ground meat, breaking it up. Brown the meat, stirring well, and when it is cooked, remove it to a plate with a slotted spoon. Pour off the accumulated fat, and discard it.
- In the same skillet, heat another Tablespoon of oil, and sauté the onions and the garlic. Season liberally with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until the onions become translucent. Add the coriander, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, and allspice; stir well, and cook not quite a minute, just until the fragrance blooms. Add the chopped cashews, dried fruits, and ¼ cup of the mint. Cook about 5 more minutes, until very fragrant. Remove from heat; add this mixture to the rice and stir well to combine. Add remaining mint, lemon juice and Aleppo pepper, and taste for seasoning.
- Divide the mixture among the 6 peppers, pressing down on the stuffing to pack it well. Pour about half of the tomato sauce over the stuffed peppers. Slice the tomatoes to get curved end-slice ‘caps’, and put one of these tomato caps on top of each pepper. Add ½ cup water to the remaining tomato sauce, and pour that into the bottom of the pan.
- Bake, uncovered, about 45 minutes. Baste the peppers with the sauce once or twice. While the peppers cook, if the pan seems to be drying out, simply add a little more water to the bottom.
- Serve the peppers hot or at room temperature. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, and garnish with more fresh mint leaves and Aleppo pepper flakes.