Stuffed Capsicums

This dish will fill your home with the most beautiful smells as it cooks.   Do not omit the ground allspice from this dish, it is the essential ingredient.  Buy allspice berries if you can and pound them in your pestle & mortar, for maximum flavour.

Four  large capsicums – a mixture of red and green, and yellow if you can get them.  Choose a shape that is roughly square, not long, so they will stand well in the pot

2 onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, diced

500 grams minced beef or lamb

1.5 cups uncooked basmati rice

400g tin  chopped tomatoes

3 tomatoes, skinned and diced (place in boiling water for a minute or two, so skins peel off easily)

1 teaspoon ground allspice

Handful of chopped parsley

Olive oil

Soak the rice in cold water.  Fry the onion in olive oil until soft, then add the garlic and cook for just a minute.  Add the mince, and cook, stirring, until brown. Rinse and drain the rice and add it along with the fresh tomatoes (not tinned) and parsley.  Barely cover with water and put a lid on the pan. Cook for 7 minutes. The rice should be slightly under cooked.

Cut the tops off the capsicums and put aside.  With a long thin knife cut out the seeds and fleshy inside part of the capsicum.  Tapping them gently on their bottoms will rid them of errant seeds.  Place them in a baking dish that has a little olive oil and water in the base.  Spoon in the stuffing, top with some chopped tinned tomatoes and put the lids on. Hold them in place with skewers if they don’t fit snugly.  Whatever is left of the tomatoes tip into the bottom of the dish, around the capsicums.  Cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes until the capsicums are nice and soft.

Serve with a spinach and feta salad (see my recipe).

Variations: you can add raisins or pine nuts to the mixture if you like, or use them in place of the meat.  You can use this mixture to stuff any vegetable you like… pumpkin, zucchini.

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