The person who introduced me to this beautiful Turkish Stuffed Vegetables dish is my mother-in-law. I remember the first time I came across this dish was at my parents-in-law’s house and I was amazed how delicious it tasted and how beautiful it looked. It is somehow similar to the Vietnamese stuffed bitter melon dish that my mum and sister-in-law used to cook during the summer time back in Vietnam but this has a lot more rich flavor especially with the spiced rice filling simmered in the tomato, red capsicum, onion and garlic sauce.
With everything that you need for a healthy meal from varieties of vegetables to something more filling like meat and rice, this Turkish Stuffed Vegetables is a feature of Turkish cuisine which you can find in majority of Turkish restaurants in Sydney.
In my family, we love to serve this hot. A dollop of garlicky yogurt by the side will perfectly complements this Turkish stuffed vegetables dish. However, many people prefer to have it as a cold dish. The tastes is actually better a day after it’s cooked. If you do not like the strong taste of the garlic you can totally replace it by plain yogurt.
I hope you enjoy this versatile dish and will have a go, too.
prep time: 25 minutes cooking time: 50 minutes
total time: 1 hour – 15 minutes
• 3 medium size bell peppers
• 3 medium tomatoes
• 3 zucchinis (prefer white over green)
• 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
• 2 medium potatoes
• 2 carrots
For the filling:
• 300 gr minced beef/lamb (I prefer mixed minced veal and beef)
• ¼ cup long grain rice, rinsed
• 1 ½ medium onion, grated
• 1 large handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
• 2 table spoon olive oil
• 1 tea spoon dried oregano
• 1 tea spoon of dried mint leave
• 1 tea spoon ground black pepper
• salt to taste
For the sauce:
• flesh of the scooped tomatoes, finely chopped
• 1 ½ table spoon olive oil
• ¾ table spoon red pepper paste optional – (you can buy in Turkish supermarket)
• 1 table spoon tomato paste
• 2 garlic cloves, sliced
1. Prepare the filling by putting the minced meat in a large bowl and stir in the rest of the filling ingredients. Mix and knead until all blended well.
2. Prepare the vegetables for stuffing. Slice the top of the peppers, tomatoes to create the lids and set aside. Scoop out the pepper seeds and discard. Using a spoon to scoop out the flesh of the tomatoes, finely chop and reserve.
3. Cut the zucchinis in half and scoop out the flesh of the zucchinis and reserve
4. Peel off the potato and carrot skin and chop into wedges
5. Spoon the filling and pack it in to the vegetable until they are about more than ¾ full. Do not over fill the top of the vegetable as the filling will expand and rise up during cooking. Place the tops of the peppers and tomatoes on as lids. Place the stuffed vegetable upright and packed tightly in a deep large pan
6. Preparing the sauce. In a large pan over medium heat, heat 1 ½ table spoons of olive oil and fry the garlic for about 1 minute, then add the chopped tomato flesh, tomato paste and red pepper paste (optional – for richer taste), season with salt and pepper, cook for 3 minutes and add 1 cup of water, bring to boil
7. Stir gently the sauce in the stuffed vegetable pan then add the potato and carrot wedges and zucchini flesh in the pan between the gaps of the vegetables. Cover the lid of the pan and cook at high medium heat for 15 minutes then reduce to low medium heat for extra 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the filling are cooked.
8. Before serving, gently lift the lids of each pepper and tomato off and use a table spoon to pour over the stuffed peppers and tomatoes with the sauce to bring up a rich flavor then put the lids back on.
NOTE: Serve hot or warm with plain natural yogurt on the side.