If you’ve been following this blog, you know we recently acquired a Tagine. Every couple of days I try to cook something different in it…not only because it is a great new vessel to cook in, but also because I don’t want to figure out where to store it when it’s not in use! Every cabinet and flat surface in our house is overflowing – but not yet to the point where intervention is required. Right, honey? Honey?
Stuffed peppers are very festive, and certainly are a party for your palate with all the different textures and flavors in every bite. According to Claudia Roden in The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, both the Turks and the Greeks claim to have created stuffed vegetables, which most likely developed as part of a court cuisine meant to impress the rich and powerful. These stuffed peppers are impressive looking, especially considering they don’t take a huge amount of effort to prepare.
Six pepper halves fit perfectly in the tagine, and it provided an excellent environment for cooking the peppers while keeping the filling moist.
Since these stuffed peppers are filled with a rich combination of meat, fruit, and cheese, they are good all on their own! Or, next time you are serving royalty, add them to the buffet.
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- ~ 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
- kosher salt, to taste
- a few grinds of black pepper
- ~ 1/3 cup dried fruit (I used a mix of dried cherries/raisins/cranberries)
- ~ 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (or soft-ripened goat cheese)
- ~ 1/3 cup toasted nuts or seeds (I used pumpkins seeds because they were in the cabinet…but pine nuts would be good)
- 3 red and/or yellow bell peppers, split lengthwise, with seeds and ribs removed (See #6, below)
- Additional chopped mint and crumbled feta, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and cook until soft and transparent.
- Add the ground lamb. Brown the lamb well, while stirring to break up the meat.
- Drain excess fat from the pan. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, mint, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. (Keep in mind that the feta will add salt to the dish, so salt sparingly.)
- Stir in fruit, feta, and toasted nuts. (Amounts given were approximate; add more or less to suit your taste.)
- Prepare the peppers for stuffing. I find it easier to split the pepper lengthwise, but you may want to just slice the tops off to make the pepper more of a “cup” than a “boat”. A vegetable peeler is useful for scraping out the ribs of the pepper from the inside. If making pepper “cups”, you may need to shave some pepper from the bottoms so they will sit upright.
- Lightly oil the bottom of a baking dish or tagine. Also lightly oil the surfaces of the peppers.
- Fill each pepper with the meat mixture and place upright into the baking dish.
- Cover baking dish; bake for 30-40 minutes or until peppers are tender. Remove cover and bake for 10 minutes or until browned on top.
- Serve with additional feta cheese and mint sprinkled over peppers.
At the end of the meal, we enjoyed a few Medjool dates stuffed with pecans. Like stuffed vegetables, these precious and delicate fruits were once reserved for royalty and their guests. Each bite of our treat was reminiscent of sweet, sticky pecan pie, without the corn syrup and pie crust. Beware, primal eaters, these babies are NOT low-carb (about 18 carbs apiece), so take it easy on the dessert!
No intervention yet, please…I still have albums to buy! Like this dandy one I picked up the other day:
Hits 1979-1989 from Rosanne Cash. This isn’t her best period sonically, since it was mostly from the ’80s and and despite then-husband Rodney Crowell’s best effort, it still sounds like MTV music. But the songs are great: “Seven Year Ache” and “My Baby Thinks He’s a Train”…Johnny’s daughter does good.
Now, for a record that is as near to perfect as you can get, try Shadowland from K.D. Lang. Produced by Patsy Cline’s producer Owen Bradley, this collection of honky tonkers and weepers showcases Lang’s gorgeous voice almost as sweetly as pecan-stuffed dates! Yum!