Peppers stuffed with flavor of Greece

FAST & FRESH

January 18, 1995|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Special to The Sun

You can't go wrong with stuffed peppers; a full meal in those tasty little baked containers. The character of the stuffing can come in many varieties. The tastes of Greece shine here with bits of browned lamb, rice, tomatoes, raisins and, of course, oregano. This is a good way to stretch the meat budget since ground lamb is very economical and 12 ounces will feed four hungry folks.

Traditionally, green bell peppers are stuffed, but the red and yellow are so much sweeter, so you may want to splurge. Seasonally, I will find the colorful bell peppers on sale and then I stock up. They will keep for quite a while in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator, as long as they can breath. That means don't store them in a plastic bag. When you plan to make this dish, allow for some leftover rice. Make extra for a meal in advance and freeze it if necessary.

Serve a lively Greek cucumber salad with the peppers. Make the salad first so the flavors can mingle while your are preparing the peppers. I found that the extra money is well spent on hothouse (or burpless) cucumbers. You don't need to spend time peeling thick waxy skin as with regular cukes and, of course, this variety is milder. Thinly slice the cucumber and toss with a splash of vinegar. Sprinkle with just enough sugar to lessen the bite of the vinegar, and then add some dill plus salt to taste.

In the true Greek spirit, serve some sweet and flaky Baklava for dessert. Many markets now carry a delicious selection in the frozen food department, or buy it from your favorite bakery. Items you should have as staples are: olive oil, onions, garlic, rice, canned tomatoes, raisins, oregano leaf, lemons, bread for bread crumbs, vinegar, sugar, dill

Your 10-item-or-less shopping list:

4 large bell peppers, your choice of color

12 ounces lean ground lamb

1 large hothouse cucumber

baklava

Greek Stuffed Peppers

Serves 4

4 large bell peppers, your choice of color

1 teaspoon olive oil

12 ounces lean ground lamb

1 medium onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 cups cooked rice

1 (16-ounce) can tomatoes

1/3 cup golden or dark raisins

1 teaspoon oregano leaf

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the top off each pepper and remove the stem with seeds and any large veins. Turn the peppers upside down on a microwave-safe plate and microwave 4 minutes on HIGH power, rotating after 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add lamb and onion and saute, stirring occasionally for 6 minutes. Pour off all the fat from the pan. Return the pan to the heat and add the garlic, cooked rice, tomatoes, raisins, oregano and lemon juice. Break up the tomatoes into small pieces and stir until mixture is warm. Turn off heat and stuff mixture firmly into each pepper. Place the stuffed peppers on a baking sheet and sprinkle the tops with the bread crumbs. Bake 20 minutes. Serve at once.

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