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Photo by: Joseph De Leo
The Greeks stuff just about any vegetable they can get their hands on — from cabbage and vine leaves to zucchinis, tomatoes and eggplants. But peppers are their favorites, especially at harvest time, when they are so affordable. This is an heirloom recipe, which has been fleshed out with the addition of black beans, both for color and taste. These peppers are meant to be eaten at room temperature, when their various flavors really come to the fore. They make a perfect buffet item, especially because they can be (carefully) cut in half to double the number of servings. They also keep well (covered) in the fridge; just let them come back to room temperature before serving.
Preheat oven to 375° F (190° C)
1. Slice a ½-inch (1 cm) round (including the stem, if any) from the top of each pepper. Set these aside. (They’ll serve later as “lids” for the stuffed peppers.) Trim the cavity of the peppers, discarding seed pod and seeds, without puncturing the walls or bottom of the peppers. Set aside.
2. In a bowl, shred the onions through the grater’s largest holes (you’ll have about 3 cups [750 mL] grated onions and juices). Transfer to a large nonstick frying pan. Add cinnamon, salt and pepper; cook, stirring, over high heat for 5 minutes or until most of the juices have evaporated. Add pine nuts, currants and olive oil; cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until the onions start to catch on bottom of pan.
3. Immediately add rice; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the rice is thoroughly coated with oil. Add tomatoes and ½ cup (125 mL) of the boiling water; cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes or until the tomatoes have broken down and the water is absorbed. Remove from heat. Stir in mint, dill and black beans until well mixed.
4. Stuff a scant ½ cup (125 mL) of the rice-bean stuffing into each pepper. (It should be about twothirds full to allow for expansion.) Place stuffed peppers into roasting pan, fitting the peppers snugly in a single layer. Place the reserved tops on the peppers to act as lids. Add 1 cup (250 mL) boiling water around the peppers.
5. Cover and bake for 40 minutes, undisturbed. Uncover and bake for 30 to 40 minutes more to char the peppers and reduce the liquid. Remove from oven, and cover the peppers. Let them cool down completely (about 1 ½ hours) before serving.
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