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 an essential ingredient.  Buy allspice berries if you can and pound them in your pestle & mortar, for maximum flavour.

This recipe is adapted from the New Book of Middle Eastern Food, by the wonderful Claudia Roden. I’ve had the book for over 20 years and I still use it.

  • Four  large capsicums – a mixture of red and green.  Choose ones that look like they will have a decent cavity for the filling when sliced in half.
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 500 grams minced beef or lamb or a combination
  • 1.5 cups uncooked basmati rice
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tomatoes, skinned and diced (place in boiling water for a minute or two with an x cut in the bottom, and skins will peel off easily)
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • handful of chopped parsley
  • olive oil

Preheat oven to 180 degrees c.

Fry the onion in olive oil until soft, then add the garlic and cook for just a minute.  Add the mince and allspice and cook, stirring, until brown. Add the rice along with the fresh tomatoes (not tinned) and parsley.  Season well with salt and pepper. Add enough water to just barely cover the rice mixture, put a lid on the pan, turn down low and cook for about 7 minutes. The rice should be slightly under cooked.

Slice the capsicums in half lengthwise. With a thin sharp knife cut out the seeds and fleshy inside part of the capsicum.  Use a melon baller if you like. Tap any stray seeds out.  Place them in a baking dish that has a little olive oil and 1 cup of water in the base.  Spoon in the stuffing, and top with some chopped tinned tomatoes. Splash a little extra water over each one, just a few teaspoons each. Whatever is left of the tomatoes tip into the bottom of the dish, around the capsicums. Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes until the capsicums are nice and soft. Check once or twice to see if the pan needs more water in the bottom. Scatter with chopped parsley before serving.

I like to serve this with my silverbeet and fetta salad.

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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