Last week I bought a bag of colorful bell peppers at a local veggie store and immediately thought of our traditional family recipe – stuffed bell peppers. When I was little, my mother made this on so many occasions when we had guests over. She would stuff the peppers with ground beef and rice mixture, simmer peppers in a creamy tomato sauce, then serve with mashed potatoes.
I usually make stuffed peppers in late summer or early fall when fresh locally grown peppers are cheap and abundant. I prefer to use medium-sized peppers which look more elegant when stuffed. The secret is to soak the rice in water for about two hours before making the the stuffing mixture. It will then soak up beef flavor while simmering in the sauce and will be perfectly cooked. It’s also important not to overstuff the pepper. Don’t try to cram the stuffing into every nook and cranny – remember that rice will expand while cooking. You don’t want a big lump of stuffing bursting out of the pepper.
Colorful Bell Peppers Stuffed With Beef and Rice
- 7-8 medium bell pepper of any color, preferably with flat bottoms
- 500 g (1 lb) lean ground beef
- 2/3 cup rice, soaked in water for 2 hours
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 tbsp (approx) vegetable oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper (optional, to taste)
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or heavy cream
- 1 x 398 mL (14 oz) can tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 2 bay leaves
If not already done so, pour hot water over rice and let it soak for 2 hours.
Core and seed bell peppers. If they cannot stand on their own, cut small slivers off the bottom part of the pepper taking care not to make a hole in the bottom.
Here is a video showing how to core and seed bell peppers without a knife. This method allows to take the core out quickly and neatly.
Dice the onion. Peel and grate carrot on a course grater. Add enough oil to a frying pan to caat the bottom, add onions and carrots and saute on medium-high stirring often, until onions are soft and golden. Drain on a paper towel.
In a large bowl, mix beef, rice, carrot and onion mixture, salt, and pepper. Stuff peppers with the mixture. Stand stuffed peppers upright in a large pot making sure they don’t fall on their sides.
4. In a sauce pan, mix tomato sauce, Greek yogurt or heavy cream, paprika, and 2 cups of boiling hot water. Stir until there are no lumps remaining.
Pour enough sauce over stuffed peppers to just cover their tops. If there is not enough sauce, add more hot water to the pot to make sure that peppers are covered. Add bay leaves.
Place pot on the stove and heat it up on high quickly until the sauce is almost boiling, then turn the heat down to medium law. Cover pot with lid and simmer for 45 minutes.