Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed bell peppers on white wooden tableINGREDIENTS:

6-8 medium bell peppers, any color
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup olive oil, plus additional olive oil
1 cup white rice
1/4 cup fresh chopped mint
1/4 cup fresh chopped dill
1 cup chopped, peeled fresh tomatoes
2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup warm water for pan

METHOD:

Heat olive oil in large sauté pan. Add onions and garlic and sauté on low heat until softened. Stir in rice, mint, dill, and tomatoes; continue cooking, stirring, for 5 minutes.

Add water, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, uncover, stir and allow rice mixture sit for at least 10 minutes. Rice should be almost completely cooked.

Meanwhile, cut off the tops of peppers (reserve tops) and remove seeds and membranes. Place the peppers in a baking pan so that they fit snuggly in the pan.

Fill each pepper with rice filling mixture, almost to the top. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of warm water over the top of each filled pepper. Replace pepper tops and brush sides and tops of filled peppers with olive oil. Add 1/2 cup of warm water to bottom of the pan.

Bake at 375°F for 1 1/2 hours.* Rice will be soft and tops of peppers just slightly charred.

*Yellow and orange bell peppers are more mature and are a bit thicker-skinned than green peppers. If using peppers other than green, they may need an additional 15 minutes cooking time.

VARIATIONS:
Add 1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese, if desired.
Add 1/2 lb. cooked ground meat (lamb, beef or turkey); this addition will increase the amount of filling and will fill 8 bell peppers.