Cooks have been stuffing vegetables for centuries. Whether it be squashes and peppers or grape and cabbage leaves, vegetables serve as the perfect vessel for holding meats and grains. Growing up my Polish grandmother would stuff cabbage leaves with meats and rice and we would eat them as fast as she could cook them. When I went through a phase of cooking Greek food I would patiently stuff and roll grape leaves with rice, herbs, and dried fruits before steaming them. All of this work was time-consuming but worth it.
Peppers are a much easier vegetable to stuff since they don’t require the tedious rolling process. Bell peppers aren’t always readily available here in Albania but you can use any variety of peppers you like. I like to use red and yellow peppers since they are sweeter but green peppers work as well. The larger the pepper the easier it is to stuff but smaller ones are ok too. If you can’t find ground lamb in the market feel free to substitute a lean ground beef.
6 whole peppers
3/4 pound ground lamb
1/3 cup red onion, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup long grained white rice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
- Carefully remove the stems and seeds of each pepper keeping the pepper whole and intact.
- Submerge the peppers in the boiling water and boil for three minutes.
- Remove from the water and drain on paper towels.
- In a large saute pan set over medium-high heat, cook the lamb and onion until the meat is cooked and the onions are soft, approximately 5-7 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and their juice, the water, rice, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, salt, and pepper to the meat mixture and bring to a simmer.
- Continue to cook for 15 minutes or until the rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
- Off the heat and add half of each cheese to the mixture. Stir to combine.
- Stuff each pepper with the meat mixture until filled and place in a shallow casserole dish. If you have additional filling place it in the dish around the peppers.
- Sprinkle the peppers with the remaining cheese.
- Bake the peppers for 15 minutes or until the cheese is browned and bubbly.
- Allow the peppers to sit for 3 minutes before serving.