Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

August 19, 2017
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Turkey stuffed bell peppers

(Biber dolmasi)

Turkish cooks are adamant about their traditional recipes: this dish must be served cold (though it’s just as delicious served freshly cooked) and it is preferable served alone as its own course. Turkish vegetable dishes have their own honour and are usually served separate from the meat course. Irfan Orga, in his book Turkish Cooking, plainly states, “The judicious use of herbs and spices is most important in the intelligent preparation of food.” This dish is a good example of this. The rice, infused with the flavour of the pepper, has a subtle and sublime character, which is enhanced — rather than extinguished — with the use of dill and cinnamon.

For the stuffing:

2 tbsp. (30 ml) olive oil

4 green onions, sliced

4 tbsp. (60 ml) pine nuts

1½ c. (375 ml) short-grain rice, such as baldo, risotto, sushi or pudding rice

2½ c. (625 ml) water

1 ripe tomato, chopped

4-5 tbsp. (60-75 ml) fresh dill, chopped

1 tsp. (5 ml) ground cinnamon

4 tbsp. (60 ml) currants or sultana raisins

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 green bell peppers

1 c. (250 ml) vegetable stock or water

To make the stuffing, heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the oil. Add the green onions and pine nuts and fry until the nuts are slightly golden, then add the rice. Fry until slightly translucent and tinged with gold. Add the water, tomato, dill, cinnamon, currants or sultanas and salt and pepper to taste. Stir, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender.

Meanwhile, prepare the peppers. Slice the tops off about ½ inch (1.25 cm) below the stem to form a lid. Remove and discard all the seeds and membranes.

Choose a large saucepan with a lid that will accommodate all the peppers standing upright with the stem-lids on, ideally quite snugly together. Alternatively, use 2 saucepans.

Fill the peppers with the rice mixture, fairly solidly, but not too packed. Place in the pan and put the stem-lids on. Pour the vegetable stock or water into the bottom of the pan. Place the pan over medium heat and cover. Cook until the peppers are soft, about 20 to 30 minutes. Make sure that the pan does not dry out. Discard or reserve the stock for another use.

To oven cook, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Stand the stuffed peppers with stem-lids on in a roasting dish, ideally snugly together so they can’t fall over. Pour the stock or water into the dish. Drape foil over the peppers and seal around the edges of the dish. Bake until tender, about 40 to 50 minutes. Serve warm or, cool in the liquid, then chill in the fridge and serve. Serves 6.

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