Stuffed Peppers with Meat/ Etli Biber Dolması

“When life hands you peppers, stuff them!”

It should be a more common phrase. Actually, food aside, I think I might just make this a bit of a life mantra.

With so much beautiful produce available, how do we decide what to make? I don’t have a shortage of go-to recipes, but come summer, these peppers grace our table more than a few occasions.  Especially for company. These rarely make it to leftovers, but if one or two might slip someone’s notice, these taste even better the next day. (I’ve been known to eat these for breakfast even, truth be told.)

Peppers, also known as capsicum, are incredible for your eyesight, sometimes matching carrots in beta-carotene, your immune system, with loads of Vitamin-C and folate, so be sure to incorporate peppers for those of us lucky enough to be fellow human creators!

These are sweet and only slightly bitter-and are known as “dolmalik biber” in Turkey, or “dolma peppers,” the “dolma” meaning something that is stuffed. Dolmas are also in the form of tomatoes, zucchini, or squash blossoms. These lighter green varieties are the ones that I remember from Europe and I found mine locally at Integral Yoga Natural Foods.

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At the restaurant, these peppers were always a favorite with both the local and tourists, as well as the many stuffed leaves, squash, blossoms, and other fashions of the basic combination of this delicious summer trinity: rice, seasonings, and ground beef. And yogurt. Aways with a side of yogurt.

“Yogurt?!” You say. Yes. Stay with me here.

I was incredulous at first also. But trust me. Just try it. And on top of it add just a bit of garlic. I’ll wait for the e-mails.

Start by taking a knife and going around the edge of the stem, making a hole. Dig out the stem, ribs, and seeds from the peppers as best you can. Set aside.

Also, I used fragrant Indian Basmati rice, which you can get at any Whole Foods or even on Amazon Prime for delivery.

To a medium-sized bowl, add the washed rice, ground beef, and all the seasonings. With your hands, squeeze all of the filling ingredients together until they come together somewhat uniformly. Spoon in the filling ingredients in the peppers, pressing with the back of the spoon along the way. Begin to line your peppers all around the edge of the pot you’ll make them in, and stand them upright.

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Cut a cherry tomato in half and add to the top of each pepper. To the bottom of your pan, add 1/3 cup of water. Also, cut two or three slices of a lemon and squeeze the juice over the top, as well as a tablespoon of oil. (If your beef is higher in fat content than the 93% lean that I used, omit this step.)

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Boil gently for around 20-25 minutes over a low flame, making sure that the water doesn’t dry from the bottom of the pan. Let rest for 10 minutes before opening the lid, making sure that the steam does its job!

With a little yogurt and garlic and a side salad, this is a lunch or dinner that you will love again and again.

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What other kinds of veggies do you like “stuffed?” Be sure to drop me a line and let me know!

Stuffed Peppers with Meat/ Etli Biber Dolması

serves 6

6 bell peppers
1/2 pound ground beef 93% lean
1 cup rice
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 small tomato, chopped (and be sure to use the juice!)
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 small bunch mint, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried)
3 tbsp oregano, chopped (or 1 1/2 tsp dried)
1 1/2 tsp cumin powder
salt, pepper to taste
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

Start by taking a knife and going around the edge of the stem, making a hole. Dig out the stem, ribs, and seeds from the peppers as best you can. Set aside.

To a medium-sized bowl, add the washed rice, ground beef, and all the seasonings. With your hands, squeeze all of the filling ingredients together until they come together somewhat uniformly. Spoon in the filling ingredients in the peppers, pressing with the back of the spoon along the way. Begin to line your peppers all around the edge of the pot you’ll make them in, and stand them upright.

Cut a cherry tomato in half and add to the top of each pepper. To the bottom of your pan, add 1/3 cup of water. Also, cut two or three slices of a lemon and squeeze the juice over the top, as well as a tablespoon of oil. (If your beef is higher in fat content than the 93% lean that I used, omit this step.)

Boil gently for around 20-25 minutes over a low flame, making sure that the water doesn’t dry from the bottom of the pan. Let rest for 10 minutes before opening the lid.