Ladies and gentlemen, here is the first one of my “straight-from-the-motherland” recipes that I want to share with you. The experience of cooking with my mother and yia yia (that’s Greek for grandmother) was unforgettable. It was also amusing since my yia yia barely trusted me to peel the eggplant. Granted, my 10 years of cooking experience can’t hold a candle to her 65+ years as a Greek cooking machine, but more relevantly, Greek grandmothers have a very firm idea about how things need to be done. If the family recipe had written that you must spin 3 times in a circle while reciting the Greek National Anthem, you’d dare not defy tradition. Oh and like the lasagna, this recipe looks like a lot of steps, but after you’ve made it a couple of times, it comes together quickly.
So without further ado, I present you with stuffed green peppers. Our ingredients are as follows:
9 green peppers (my mother uses Cubanelles in the U.S. since they’re closer to Greek ones)
3 medium onions (or in our case 5 small ones)
1 large eggplant (my mother uses 3 small Italian ones in the U.S.)
1 cup chopped parsley
Mahatma rice (1/3 cup for every 2 peppers or tomatoes)
1 tsp. dried mint
salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and wash all of your vegetables. You’ll need a good-sized roasting pan like the one below.
Next, we’re going to cut the tops of the green peppers 3/4 of the way around to create a lid.
Remove the pith inside of the stem (and put it aside) and clean the pith from the inside of the pepper as well (this you can disgard). Here’s the side angle.
And here, my mother is washing the seeds off of the insides of the stems, which will be used in the recipe.
As you will see, there is no wastefulness in Greek cooking. Here they are cleaned and ready to go.
Now, delicately scoop out the insides of the three tomatoes and put them into a bowl. You should have about 2 cups of tomatoes. If you don’t, you can add canned diced tomatoes.
Next, peel your egglant…
and dice your onions. Put 2/3 cup olive oil in a pot and saute your onions…
…until translucent, about 10 minutes.
Next, add in the diced egglant and diced green pepper stems as well as 2 teaspoons of salt. (If you’re going to stuff your tomatoes as well, sprinkly 1 teaspoon of sugar inside of them.)
Next wash the rice (I had 2 cups since I had 9 peppers and 3 tomatoes)…
…and add it to the pot.
Finally, add in the chopped parsley, 2 cups diced tomatoes, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, 1 teaspoon of mint, and 1 teaspoon of pepper.
Let the rice sit about 15 minutes. (Go ahead and peel your potatoes now, cut them into wedges and sprinkle them with salt, pepper and oregano.) Ok, now it’s time to stuff ’em. Go ahead and spoon in the rice mixture until the potato is full.
Arrange the stuffed tomatoes and peppers in your roasting pan (notice that they’re on their sides) and stick the potato wedges anywhere that you find space. Finally, pour 1/4 cup of olive oil over the peppers, tomatoes and potatoes…
…and bake for 90 minutes. When they’re done, they’ll look nice and roasted.
Let them sit for 10 minutes or so and then…
…close your eyes and enjoy. These flavors take me back to all of my many summers in Greece. The rice is so flavorful and moist that you will be glad that you went to the trouble of making it. My yia yia told me that good food takes patience and love. This recipe was definitely made with both and you can taste it in every bite.