I have to admit that I never had stuffed peppers until I moved overseas. They were just something that I’d never tried. In fact, I rarely ate any kind of pepper besides the teeny, tiny spicy kind. My time in Bulgaria exposed me to these wonderful plants and I have not looked back since. In Bulgaria, this very common and delicious dish is called “Pulneni Chushki” which literally means ‘filled peppers.”
If I have any Bulgarian readers, I hope you aren’t looking for something completely authentic! As with many of my recipes, this is an interpretation of the dish and certainly the addition of quinoa is not typical. The grain normally used is white rice.
Peppers With No Bite
While these types of peppers belong to the Capsicum genus, they are the only ones that do not produce the chemical capsaicin. This is the component that makes peppers hot and cause a burning sensation. Its name, while a bit of a misnomer, was assigned by Christopher Columbus when he brought them back to Europe. While technically they are fruit, culinarily speaking, they are treated like vegetables.
They are often referred to as ‘bell’ peppers, as well, because of their bell shape. This shape also makes them ideal for stuffing.
Nutritional Benefits of Peppers
Green and yellow peppers are very nutritious and rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants, but red peppers have more carotene, lycopene and vitamin C than their green and yellow cousins.
I like cooking stuffed peppers with red peppers also because of the flavor. They are slightly sweeter than yellow and green peppers. That is not to say you can’t cook with any type of pepper. I’ve cooked many times with different types but my favorite is red bell pepper.
- 8-10 red bell peppers
- 1 large onion (equivalent to 1 cup of diced onion)
- 1 tbs or 15 grams of paprika
- 2-3 tomatoes
- 1 cup or 128 grams of quinoa
- 6 cups or 48 fl oz of chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp or 5 grams of oregano
- 1 lb or 500 grams of ground pork or a mixture of beef and pork
- 2 tbs or 1 oz of coconut oil
- Salt to taste
- Yogurt sauce:
- 1 1/2 cup or 12 oz of plain Greek yogurt (I use Bulgarian or Turkish for the flavor and that's what I can get here but Greek is good, too)
- 1 egg
- 1 tbs or 15 grams of flour (optional) to thicken the sauce
- 2-3 tbs of water
- 1 tsp salt
- Cook quinoa and set aside. Cut out the tops of the bell peppers and set aside. Dice the onions and tomatoes. Turn the pan on medium and when the pan is hot, add oil. Then add onions. Sprinkle a little salt to sweat the onions. Once the onions are translucent then add the ground meat and bay leaf. Salt the meat a bit to give it some flavor. Once it is fully cooked, add the tomatoes and oregano. Cook the tomatoes fully and then add the quinoa to your pan with the rest of the other ingredients. Keep mixing all of the ingredients together and then evenly distribute the paprika. Stir until it is mixed in evenly. Taste the mixture to see if the seasonings are balanced. You may want to add more salt, paprika or oregano if you prefer a stronger flavor.
- Preheat your oven to 220 degrees celsius or 400 degrees fahrenheit. Now fill the peppers with the mixture. Once you have used up all of your filling place the peppers into the deep dish baking pan. Now add the 6 cups of chicken stock. Cover the pan with foil and cook the peppers for 30 minutes at this temperature. After 30 minutes, remove the foil, turn the oven down to 180 degrees celsius or 350 degrees fahrenheit and cook the peppers another 20 minutes or until slightly browned.
- While the peppers are cooking, you can prepare the yogurt sauce. Add the yogurt to your sauce pan. Heat to medium and add your egg. Whisk the egg into the yogurt thoroughly. This next part is according to your taste. I like a very thick sauce so I thicken the sauce with some flour. Add the water to your flour, mix thoroughly then add to your yogurt mixture. Heat quickly to a boil to thicken the sauce and then turn down. Also salt the sauce to taste. The sauce is ready. If you want a runnier sauce, skip this step.
This is a delicious high protein meal with the additional of the quinoa. You can, of course, substitute white or brown rice if you don’t have quinoa readily available. If you give it a try, let me know how it turned out!
Live well and be happy 🙂