stuffed peppers with ground beef, mushroom, goat feta and hazelnut crumb

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While the roasted capsicums make for a deliciously edible vessel, it’s the beef mince within that really steals the show here. The pomegranate molasses used is a relatively inexpensive pantry staple, and now easily found in many New Zealand supermarkets. It adds an incredible depth of flavour here to this dish, and I promise you won’t be short on opportunities to use it elsewhere. The warmth of the meat is a welcome to winter, however the abundance of capsicums (or bell peppers) in which they are served keeps things from getting too heavy. It’s a dish that lent itself naturally to being low carb – I bulked out the meat with grated courgette instead of rice or quinoa, with flavour and texture variation coming from the creamy goat cheese and crunchy nuts.

Storing the meat in the capsicums themselves also makes this dish the tidiest meal prep dinner ever. I served these to my new housemates for an easy dinner, and the leftovers were easily reheated in the oven for lunch the next day. I love dishes like this, where the flavours developed the longer they’re left to do so, and so this is perfect for preparing in advance. It’s also easily made completely dairy free with the omission of the goat feta – perhaps to be replaced with pine nuts.

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Although I thought I was being original in coming up with this flavour combination, I actually realised the hazelnut/goat feta/parsley topping is not a new one for me. I’ve previously employed it in sprinkling over grilled asparagus with tomatoes and chorizo, and was equally successful there. I absolutely adore goat feta, and I think it accompanies salty, rich dishes such as these beautifully, bringing the flavours of the meat together with the fresh vegetables. This serves four people generously.

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stuffed peppers with ground beef, mushroom, goat feta and hazelnut crumb

Ingredients:

  • ~800g capsicums/bell peppers (approximately 10-12 depending on size)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely diced
  • 4 large button mushrooms, roughly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 600g lean ground beef
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2 medium courgettes, grated
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Large handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  • 100g goat feta
  • 100g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper to season

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C bake setting. Carve the stem and seeds out from the top of the capsicums and arrange in a roasting dish. Brush the outsides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  2. To prepare the filling, heat the remaining olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion and mushrooms until soft, around 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, cinnamon and paprika and stir through to become fragrant. Crumble the beef into the onion mixture and brown the meat until cooked through. While the meat is cooking, add the pomegranate molasses and tomato paste and combine. Simmer for 5 minutes over low heat.
  3. When the meat is cooked, add the courgettes, sugar, lemon juice (not zest) and half of the chopped parsley. Stir through until the zucchini is just starting to shrink down. Remove the pan from heat.
  4. Make the crumb by combining half of the feta and hazelnuts with the lemon zest and remaining parsley. Add the rest of the hazelnuts and feta to the mince mixture, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Using two spoons, gently fill the hollowed peppers with the beef. Top with the feta crumb and cover the baking dish tightly with foil.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes covered, followed by a further 10-15 uncovered, until the peppers are becoming wrinkly and tender.
  7. Serve with a green salad with balsamic dressing. Suitable for freezing/leftovers.
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