Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Vegetarian Yemista: Greek Stuffed Peppers

I was destined, I think, to have a soft spot for Greek food. The wheels were set in motion during my formative years, ages 16 to 24, when I worked in a Greek restaurant busing tables and later waitressing. It was the 90's and despite it all, it was a pretty good job. Paid for my first car, my first trip to Europe and my way through university. But more than anything, it left me with an everlasting love for feta cheese and olive oil, spanakopita and lemon potatoes, and olives.

So when my friend Amy invited some friends over for a Mediterranean dinner, I jumped to the invitation. She put together a full spread including hummus, butter fried pita, dolmades, olives (from Stage), and stuffed red peppers. For dessert we had Turkish delight and halva (from Blair Mart on Pandora Street). And for wine, well I insisted on Italian. No ouzo, no Retsina.

The whole dinner was amazing, but the shining culinary star by far, were the vegetarian stuffed peppers. Red peppers filled with kefalograviera cheese, dried figs, pistachios, onions and rice and baked in the oven for nearly two tantalizing hours. Most of these ingredients can be found at a Mediterranean deli, like Blair Mart or Seven Valley Deli (2506 Douglas Street) in Victoria. This is a showcase meal perfect for dinner parties or weekends. Thank you Amy, take a bow.

Vegetarian Yemista: Greek Stuffed Peppers
This recipe is unabashedly re-posted from Authorized Amy

Recommendation: Prepare the stuffing the day before and leave it in the fridge over night. This step really lets the flavors mingle.

4 medium red peppers
1/4 cup olive oil
5 tablespoons rice
1/2 large onion, chopped fine
2 medium tomatoes, chopped and including the liquid
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon spearmint, dried and crumbled
1/4 cup parsley, fresh and minced
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup dried figs, chopped
1/4 cup kefalograviera cheese, cut into tiny cubes (can be found at a Mediterranean deli)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
8 bamboo skewers, pre-soaked in water

Combine all ingredients except the water, tomato paste, and second 1/4 cup of olive oil.

Cut off tops of peppers (move tops to the side - they will be used as lids); remove seeds and membrane.

Spoon stuffing into peppers, packing tight after every spoonful.

Place the peppers in a pan or casserole dish (the tighter the fit, the better the peppers will hold their shape); cover with matching tops and secure with skewers, piercing only the top of the pepper and the stuffing. (I placed the casserole dish on a pan in the over to avoid messy spill overs.)

Combine the water, olive oil, tomato paste, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour this mixture around the peppers.

Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 1 3/4 hours; the peppers may be slightly blackened. Remove from oven and let sit for 1/2 hour before serving.


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Amy Rutherford said...

Thank you for the glowing review!