Pepper lovers are rejoicing as this season’s peppers begin to arrive at markets and in gardens–chilis, Italian frying peppers and the early bell, the green bell pepper. Green bell peppers don’t have the characteristic ripened summer sweetness of its more mature red, yellow and orange siblings, and thus, considerably less of the nutrients, like Vitamin C, beta-carotene and lycopene that the riper versions contain. So they may not be everyone’s first choice in a dish that calls for bell peppers and some pepper purists choose to wait out the season until the later summer beauties arrive. But some people love green peppers in their own right, and we pepper lovers without patience still find uses for the green bells to satisfy us, even as we await the riper ones.
If you aren’t usually a green bell fan and don’t really know what to do with them…when in doubt, stuff them! Meat eaters can use lamb, beef or even fish, and vegetarians can do almost anything, from grains to curried or roasted vegetables. This recipe uses lamb tinged with Moroccan-style spices and couscous, so depending on the size of the peppers, one or two is a full meal size on its own. Or one with a salad and/or a side of vegetables, a filling summer feast.
Don’t let this long ingredient list scare you. It’s really just measuring a few spices to marinate the lamb, and chopping some fresh herbs. It’s much easier than it appears, and marinating time aside, takes less than half an hour of pure prep/cooking time. Also, if meal time really is a rush, you can prep the filling a day or so in advance when you have the time, and then stuff, heat and have dinner in minutes flat.
Green Bell Peppers Stuffed with Moroccan Lamb and Couscous
1 pound ground lamb
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon coriander
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon allspice
4 green bell peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup couscous
1 1/3 cup chicken stock or water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated cheese, e.g., I’ve used pecorino romano and gouda (optional)
1. Place ground lamb in a large bowl, add the next 11 ingredients (up to and including allspice). Mix well. Refrigerate for at least an hour, up to 12 hours.
2. Slice top off each bell pepper and remove seeds and large ribs. Chop pepper tops onto small dice and set aside.
3. Place peppers into a pot of salted boiling water and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and cool.
4. Heat olive oil in sauté pan over medium high heat, add shallots, garlic, chopped green bell pepper tops, and herbs and sauté until shallots begin to brown, about 4-6 minutes.
5. Add ground lamb, and lemon juice and cook over medium heat until done, about 4 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, heat broth or water to boil, add couscous and salt. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand covered until liquid is completely absorbed, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in parsley and fluff with a fork.
7. Fill each pepper about half full with couscous, and then fill to top with lamb mixture. Sprinkle with grated cheese (optional) and broil about 3-5 minutes until cheese is bubbly and peppers are hot. (If you pre-cooked the ingredients and you stuff them cold, heat in 35o oven for about 15 minutes, then turn on broiler to brown the top.
Here it is served with a cucumber salad and a curried summer vegetables (recipe in an upcoming post).