Stuffed Eggplant, Red Peppers With Rice Filling

Eggplant And Peppers With Rice Filling

This rice filling is delicious and redolent with mediterranean spices and it’s vegetarian.  I’ve made the recipe using zucchini, peppers and added ground beef or lamb to the filling. I love that the dish can be served warm or at room temperature.  Perfect for a hot day, I think!  You can easily prepare the rice filling the day before and refrigerate.  Bring up to room temperature before continuing making the peppers.

Makes 8 Servings

½ cup EVO
1/3 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds (see below)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup short-grain rice or Uncle Ben’s rice
¼ cup currants
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. granulated sugar
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground allspice
¼ tsp. pepper
1 tomato
4 small Italian eggplants, not Asian eggplants
4 large red bell peppers, or mini sweet peppers, cubanelle or banana peppers (you will need more as they are small)
2 green onions, chopped
¼ cup each chopped fresh parsley & dill
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Optional:  Brown 8 oz. lean ground beef or lamb in skillet with a bit of EVO before adding eggplant; draining off any extra fat.  If I’m not making a vegetarian meal like adding a bit of meat to the filling.

In a large saucepan, heat 2 Tbsp. EVO over medium heat, sauté nuts until slightly darkened being careful not to burn them. Add chopped onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the rice, currants, 1 ¼ tsp. of salt, sugar, cinnamon, allspice and pepper; stir well. Add 2 cups boiling water; reduce heat, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed but rice is still slightly firm, about 18 minutes. Scrape into a bowl; let cool.

Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise; with a spoon or melon baller, carefully scoop out the flesh, leaving about ¼” thick walls; set shells aside. Chop the eggplant flesh. Core and chop the tomato. In skillet heat 1 Tbsp. EVO over medium-high heat; (add lamb or beef if using and brown, breaking up any lumps), sauté chopped eggplant along with tomato add remaining salt, until eggplant is softened, about 5 minutes; let cool. Add to rice mixture along with green onions, parsley, dill and mint; toss with a fork; season to taste with salt and pepper.  Either cut the peppers in half or cut the top 1/2″ off them.  Sprinkle the eggplants with a small amount of salt, filling the eggplants and peppers with the rice mixture; place in a roasting pan just large enough to hold vegetables snugly. Drizzle with remaining oil, ½ cup water and lemon juice; cover with lightly greased foil or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake in a preheated 400 F oven for 1 hour. Uncover and bake until veggies are very tender, 15 – 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with pan juices spooned over top.

Note:  Another option you might like to try would be to substitute 2 of the peppers for 2 large, in season tomatoes, hollowed out, leaving 1/4″ thick walls.


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