Stuffed Bell Peppers

We chose to make this Cooks Illustrated dish (with a couple of mods) on a whim, and it turned out to be a great dish that we intend to make regularly. It’s incredibly easy to make, and this recipe calls for ingredients that you may usually have on hand (I love those types of recipes!).

-Paige

Ease of Preparation: Easy

INGREDIENTS

  • Table Salt
  • 4 medium red bell peppers , yellow, or orange, (about 6 ounces each), 1/2 inch trimmed off tops, cores and seeds discarded
  • 1/2 cup brown rice (or your preference)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
  • 12 ounces ground beef , preferably ground chuck
  • 3 medium cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili pepper
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes , drained, 1/4 cup juice reserved
  • 5 ounces Monterey Jack cheese , shredded (1 1/4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup ketchup

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large stockpot or Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and bell peppers. Cook until peppers just begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, remove peppers from pot, drain off excess water, and place peppers cut-sides up on paper towels. Return water to boil; add rice and boil until tender, about 13 minutes. Drain rice and transfer to large bowl; set aside.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, heat 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until hot, about 1 1/2 minutes; add oil and swirl to coat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add ground beef and chili pepper and cook, breaking beef into small pieces with spoon, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to bowl with rice; stir in tomatoes, 1 cup cheese, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.

Stir together ketchup and reserved tomato juice in small bowl.

Place peppers cut-side up in 9-inch square baking dish. Using soup spoon, divide filling evenly among peppers. Spoon 2 tablespoons ketchup mixture over each filled pepper and sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of remaining cheese. Bake until cheese is browned and filling is heated through, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Notes from Paige: I’m sure this would be a great dinner party option, as it’s easy to make and comes out beautifully. Although the bell peppers are deceptively filling (I definitely only needed one), you may want to make a few extras, especially if you do not plan to serve multiple sides.

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Moroccan Kefta

Now stay with me on this one. When made, Kefta looks atrocious and unappetizing, but it tastes and smells divine. This was one of my favorite dishes when I lived in Morocco. You can make this in one pot, the ingredients are basic in the extreme, it’s a GREAT source of protien, and – typical of all Middle Eastern food – you eat it out of one pot. The story goes that the prophet Muhammad was asked what his favorite food was. His answer was: the one with the most hands in it. So when you make Middle Eastern dishes, they should be eaten out of a common pot to appreciate the total experience.

– Ben

Ease of Preparation: Easy

With Bread
No Utensils Here!

INGREDIENTS

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Don’t skimp on the Olive Oil. Buying the cheap stuff does make a difference in taste.
  • 2 Large Onions – Diced
  • 6 Cloves Garlic (More or Less to Taste) – Minced
  • 1 tblspn salt
  • 1/4 cup Ground Ginger
  • 1/3 cup Ground Cumin
  • 1 Pound Ground Beef or Turkey
  • 3 Eggs
  • Crusty bread

Saute the Onion and Garlic in a large pot adding Ginger, Cumin, and Salt as the Onions start to become clear. I like to make this in my Dutch Oven, but any large pot will do. While the above is sauteing, roll the ground beef/turkey into small balls. By cooking the meat in balls, it is easier to pick them up when eating. We prefer chunks of meat about 1/2 an inch in size. Stir the pot gently so as to prevent breaking the meat chunks. Once the meat is fully cooked, add the eggs and stir to incorporate so that the eggs are fully spread throughout the dish as they cook. The eggs help bind the onions, garlic and beef together. The resulting dish will look disgusting, but the smell and taste are worth it. Once the eggs have cooked – 30-60 seconds – pour everything into a large serving bowl. To eat the Kefta, hold a chunk of bread in your fingers and use it to scoop/pinch the Kefta from the bowl – see picture above. This will get messy with the crumbs and pieces of Kefta that fall out on the table, but that’s part of the fun of eating out of a common bowl.

Notes from Ben: The Arabic كفتة (Kufta) actually means ground meat. If you go to the butcher and ask for kufta, you’ll get plain ground beef. The Moroccan dish – pronounced in Moroccan Arabic without the first vowel, kfta – is a regional specialty and is unique to the area.