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Friday, September 2, 2011

Greek Stuffed Pepper (Casserole) Recipe

I'm always looking for ways to serve nice looking food without too much work, and without spending too much money. Stuffed peppers is one of those foods; not too much work, very versatile, can be made very cheaply, and it looks nice when you serve it.

I generally make my stuffed peppers, and stick the leftover stuffing around the peppers in the pan, making it look more like a "casserole" than individual stuffed peppers, but once I remove them from the pan and serve them individually, they look like your usual stuffed peppers, just as presentable, etc...
If peppers aren't cheap where you live, you can also use this exact same recipe for making stuffed zucchini (you just hollow out the inside with a spoon, knife, or vegetable corer (my choice).
I use green bell peppers for my recipes, as they're usually much cheaper than the colored peppers, and they all taste good. (The ones I used in these pictures were purchased on sale for 12 cents a pound!)

This recipe is a Greek version of stuffed peppers, and it is absolutely delicious.

Greek Stuffed Pepper Recipe

Ingredients:
Peppers (or zucchini)
Onion
Tomato paste
Water
Dill
Parsley
Mint
Garlic powder
Salt
Pepper
Brown rice (white also works fine)- you can leave out or replace with grated potatoes or sweet potatoes or any leftover cooked grain
Ground meat, chicken, green lentils/ground seitan (optional)
Note: This is an especially great recipe, as you can make it vegetarian, with cheaper types of meat, with healthier types of meat, just with rice, with no grains, etc... You add what you want to it, pretty much, keeping in mind that you need to bulk it up with something. Either bulk it with rice/grains, or with meat/lentils/ground seitan (or if you really want to be ultra cheap, TVP, but I really don't advise using soy at all, especially not TVP, as it is very unhealthy), or both, but you have to choose one at least and cant leave out both the protein and the grain/starch.

Instructions:
1. I like to use chicken or turkey gizzards for this recipe. They're a very healthy meat, being organ meat, and at least locally, they're one of the cheapest types of meat per pound. There's also the added benefit of them being all meat, no bones, so what I pay for is what I get. Gizzards have a stronger taste than regular chicken, and have an interesting texture (soft, almost like tongue), so for people wanting to add organ meats into their diet but are somewhat picky eaters, this is the perfect dish to sneak them into- they're indistinguishable from hamburger meat in this recipe.
First, I boil the gizzards in water until they're completely soft. If in a pressure cooker, this can take up to an hour. If on the stovetop, up to 3 or 4 hours.

Cooked Turkey Gizzards
2. Strain the water from the gizzards, then cut them into 3 or 4 pieces, each.

3. Stick them in the food processor until they're completely ground up. They should resemble ground beef crumbles.

Ground gizzards.
4. If using other meats, cook and grind them in the food processor, unless you're using ground beef, chicken, turkey, or pork. Those can be left raw.
If using ground seitan or lentils, cook them until soft.

5. In the meantime, soak brown rice or white rice in boiling water for at least an hour.

6. Dice a large onion. Saute in a healthy oil or fat until translucent.

7. If using fresh parsley, dill, or mint, chop finely. I use about a quarter cup of chopped fresh parsley, a quarter cup of chopped fresh dill, and 2 teaspoons dried mint.

8. Add the herbs to the onions, and cook for a few minutes.

9. Open a can or two of tomato paste and pour it in to the onion and herb mixture. The can of tomato paste that I generally use holds 16 oz of tomato paste.

10. Add enough water to dilute the tomato paste to taste. The concentration of tomato paste that I use is best diluted with 2 cans worth of water, but start off with one can's worth, and if it tastes too strong, add a little more until it's perfect.

11. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

12. Cut the stems out of green peppers, clean them out, and put them in a large oven proof dish, cut side up. I used my cast iron dutch oven, but any is fine.

13. Mix your meat/lentils/seitan and/or raw rice and/or cooked grains or shredded potatoes/sweet potatoes with the tomato sauce. You want the ratio of solids to liquids to be that it is mostly solids with some sauciness to it.

14. Stuff your peppers with the mixture, and, if like me, fill in the empty spaces around the peppers with any left over filling.


15. Bake uncovered in an oven until the top has changed colors, and the rice is soft.


16. Remove from pan, wipe of excess rice that clings to the outside of the peppers, and serve. 



Do you ever make stuffed peppers? What do you stuff them with? What type of seasoning do you put in the sauce? Do you make any other type of stuffed veggies? Which type do you usually make, and how do you fill them?
Have you ever eaten gizzards? What do you think of them? Do you think you'd try out this recipe with gizzards, or with any of the other varieties?


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