Moroccan Stuffed Peppers

Cup o' Sauce


You can substitute large, hollowed-out tomatoes for some of the peppers if you like. Ground meat that is not too lean, such as meat ground from the shoulder, will yield the juiciest results. Here, the peppers are peeled before stuffing so they will cook through more quickly. Lalou suggests another method for those who are not calorie-conscious: Deep-fry the whole peppers in 420° oil for 1 minute, then cool, peel, core, stuff and bake.


Tomato Sauce

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 small carrot, peeled and grated fine

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


6 medium bell peppers, preferably mixed colors

1 pound ground lamb

3/4 pound ground beef chuck

1 egg, lightly beaten

3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon sea salt or kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon paprika, preferably smoked Spanish paprika

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Freshly ground black pepper


For the tomato sauce: Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over moderate heat. Add the onion and carrot and saute until soft. Add the garlic and thyme and saute briefly to release the garlic fragrance. Add the tomatoes with their juice, crushing the tomatoes with your fingers as you add them. Add the cumin, coriander, cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until thick and flavorful, about 30 minutes. Add a little water if the sauce gets too thick and threatens to stick. Season with salt and pepper and remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Pass the sauce through a food mill or puree in a blender.

For the peppers: With a vegetable peeler, peel the peppers as well as you can. Don’t worry if you can’t get every hard-to-reach bit of skin. Cut across the top of each pepper, removing the top 1/2 inch; set the tops aside. With your fingers, pull out and discard the core, ribs and seeds. With a serrated knife, slice just enough off the bottom of each pepper so it stands upright.

In a bowl, combine the ground meats, egg, pine nuts, cilantro, garlic, salt, cumin, paprika, coriander, cayenne, cinnamon and several grinds of black pepper. Work lightly with your hands, just to blend. Fry a small portion of the meat and taste for seasoning.

Preheat the oven to 375º. Fill the peppers with the meat mixture. If you have any extra meat mixture, shape it into small meatballs.

Spoon the tomato sauce into a baking dish just large enough to hold the stuffed peppers. Add the peppers and the meatballs, if any. Spoon some of the sauce over the peppers. If you like, put the tops of the peppers back on. Cover the dish and bake until almost tender, about 30 minutes, then uncover, spoon more sauce over the peppers, and cook until the peppers feel tender, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6

PER SERVING: 465 calories, 28 g protein, 13 g carbohydrate, 33 g fat (11 g saturated), 124 mg cholesterol, 1,474 mg sodium, 3 g fiber.

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