Recipe: Greek-style stuffed peppers

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I make absolutely no claim to authenticity on this one; a more common dish I saw all over Greece was rice-stuffed tomatoes, called gemista/yemista on menus. The word really just means “stuffed” or “full,” so I don’t see a problem with expanding the concept to bell peppers (especially since peppers are such a convenient shape to be stuffed). If  you really want to try rice-stuffed tomatoes, there’s a delicious-looking recipe on Smitten Kitchen that I hope to try one of these days.

Prep

This is a good using-things-up recipe, since you could basically put any combination of chopped vegetables, grain, meat, and/or cheese together, blend in whatever spices are consistent with the preexisting flavors, and spoon it into a pepper half. We’re making this tonight because we have several peppers from last week that we didn’t use up, along with many pounds of tomatoes*, half an onion, half a package of chicken meatballs (the rest went on pizza), a zucchini from last week, and the last quarter of a huge slab of feta. How could you go wrong with ingredients like that?

Ready

Fair warning: with all the chopping and mixing and cleaning out pepper insides, this is a very messy recipe to make. Do as the professional chefs do, and clean up after each step to keep in manageable. I promise, it’s all worth it to get a delicious meal.

Done

Greek-style Stuffed Peppers

Adapted from here.

3 bell peppers**
~ 1 lb cooked meat (I used chicken meatballs)
~ 2 c kale or spinach, sliced into ribbons
1 medium zucchini, coarsely grated
1 small onion (or 1/2 large onion), finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 to 3/4 c cooked rice
1 tsp dried oregano (or chopped fresh oregano)
Freshly-ground black pepper
4 medium paste or Roma tomatoes, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 c feta cheese, crumbled
Olive oil for the pan

Halve the bell peppers and remove the cores, ribs. and seeds. Place cut side up in a 9×13-inch baking dish (you may want to lightly oil the bottom) and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Chop your meat into small pieces. Drain excess water from the zucchini. Mix meat, chopped greens, zucchini, onion, garlic, rice, spices, and tomatoes in a large bowl. Fill the pepper halves with the mixture. Drizzle lemon juice and sprinkle feta on top of each pepper half.

Cover dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil and continue baking until peppers are tender, about 25 minutes more.

*If you’re wondering why we didn’t just make stuffed tomatoes if we have so many, it’s because most are Roma, or small plum/cherry tomatoes. Tomatoes grown specifically for stuffing have most of their seeds toward the middle of the fruit and more flesh on the outside, like a Roma, but with the shape of a beefsteak tomato. Most of our beefsteak tomatoes have damage from slugs or birds, so they wouldn’t hold up to stuffing.

** The amount of stuffing I made would have been enough for 4 peppers, but there wasn’t enough room in the pan to fit another one. Since all the ingredients in the stuffing are cooked (or don’t need to be), leftovers from that part of the recipe could be eaten on their own if desired.

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