Oh red pepper how I love thee and how I love finding ways to cook with you. You’re so tasty and so photogenic!
I’ve had this recipe on my long mental list of “things I want to cook for the blog.” I wanted to merge my love of the red bell pepper with the flavors of Lebanese kofta. And while I’m at it, throw in some quinoa because I just made it to the quinoa party- about 3 years late so I’ve got some catching up to do.
As I mentioned in the Lebanese Turkey Meatballs post, I married a part Lebanese-American man, and as a result was introduced to some killer Leb food. In case you’re wondering what Lebanese food is, it’s a fusion of Mediterranean and Arabic. How freakin’ cool is that?! So many great flavors and new types of foods! Like pine nuts. I never knew I could eat pine nuts- or that you couldn’t for that matter- or that they really even existed- but why wouldn’t they? Some things I just don’t think about. I mean I know a pine cone when I see one. I see them on the ground, some people put them in wreaths, decorate them, etc…. but eating their seeds? What?!
I now eat them quite often as they are very popular in Lebanese cuisine- and you’ll find them in this recipe as well as an upcoming Quinoa, Couscous and Giadiniera Salad recipe. For those of you who haven’t tried pine nuts, they’re nice and crunchy but have a slightly bitter flavor. I personally believe they are best in something vs. just eating by the handful. While cheesy meat is not characteristic of Lebanese cuisine, I couldn’t help but adding a little cheese to the meat mixture as well as topping each pepper with a generous amount and broiling them until slightly browned. Browned melted cheese just makes me smile, but is optional. I truly hope you enjoy these flavors and will think about your friends here in Upstate, NY.
P.S. If you’re interested in delving more into Lebanese cooking or giving a neat gift, check out our Lebanese Spice Kit.
- 4 bell peppers sliced in half lengthwise, seeded, stem removed
- ½ cup dry quinoa
- 1 lb. 85%-90% ground beef
- ⅓ cup parsley, chopped
- ⅓ cup pine nuts
- 1 egg
- 1¼ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. each dried mint, sugar
- ¼ tsp. each baharat, black pepper, cinnamon, sumac
- ⅛ tsp. cayenne
- 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce mixed with 1 Tbsp. sugar, ½ tsp. black pepper
- About 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided in half
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add quinoa. Boil 5 minutes then drain through a mesh strainer, rinsing with cold water. Drain very well. Set aside.
- Sprinkle a little salt in each of the peppers and set aside.
- Using your hands, mix together the meat with quinoa, parsley, pine nuts, egg, salt, spices and sugar along with 3 Tbsps. of the tomato sauce mixture and ½ cup of cheese.
- Lightly coat the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with the tomato sauce.
- Evenly distribute the meat mixture to each halved pepper and place them in the baking dish. Press the meat down so it doesn't stick up above the dish.
- Dollop tomato sauce mixture on top of each stuffed pepper (you probably won't use it all). Cover with aluminum foil and bake 45 minutes.
- Carefully remove peppers from the oven and remove the aluminum foil. Easy because there's a lot of steam under the foil! Turn oven broiler on.
- Top each pepper with a generous amount of mozzarella cheese. Broil 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted and/or browned.