Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lebanese Stuffed Peppers

My all time favorite food is stuffed grape (vine) leaves. When I lived in Massachusetts, I had a coworker with a Lebanese wife. Tim used to bring in these great stuffed grape leaves made with lamb and cinnamon that were absolutely divine. The grape leaves were fresh, picked from the many vines growing around their house, and the mix of spices gave the stuffed grape leaves a very different taste than the typical Dolmas served in Greek restaurants.

Since grape vines aren't prevalent in London, I wanted to see if I could make a similar recipe using peppers. The result is exactly what I hoped for!

Lebanese Stuffed Peppers
4 large peppers
500 grams (1 lb) of lamb mince (beef works too, or a combination)
3/4 cup of uncooked risotto (or regular rice)
1 teaspoon salt (don't use less, the recipe will be very bland if you do)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 lemon cut into slices plus extra lemon to squeeze over the top

Place the risotto in a colander and rinse with cold water. Mix the uncooked mince, risotto, salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. Cut the tops off of the peppers and discard the stems and seeds. Stuff the meat mixture into the peppers. Make sure that the peppers are densely packed.

Lay 4 lemon slices on the bottom of a pot, place the 4 peppers on top of these slices with the meat mixture facing upwards. Place 1 more slice of lemon on the top of the meat in the each pepper. Any remaining lemon slices can be put in the pot. Half fill the pot with boiling water (the water level should be half way up the peppers.) Boil the peppers on a low boil for 40 minutes. The peppers may fall over while cooking but the recipe will still work!

Remove the peppers from the boiling water and serve. These can be eaten hot or cold and can be frozen.

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