Cooking Class: Peppery season

Use peppers in all colors for more than salads: How about cold soup or a light and tasty chicken dish?

Stuffed peppers with bulgur, meat and herbs (photo credit: Danya Weiner)
Stuffed peppers with bulgur, meat and herbs
(photo credit: Danya Weiner)
Al Hashulchan, Israel’s leading gourmet magazine, brings new variation for summer dishes such as cold yogurt soup or chicken stew, as well as stuffed peppers, this time with bulgur rather than rice. The special summer issue of the magazine also offers 25 light summer dishes, summer bakes and 70 recipes for foodies.
Bake whole chicken breast next to the vegetables, so they will soak up the juices and stay moist and flavorful. You may use other parts of chicken as well.
✔ 2 whole chicken breasts, skin and bones removed ✔ 1 lemon cut into 6 wedges ✔ 2 red onions, coarsely chopped (or 2 leeks, white part only) ✔ 5 peppers in different colors, seeded and cut into large pieces ✔ 1-2 sprigs thyme or rosemary (or both) ✔ 100 gr. Kalamata olives, pitted ✔ ¼ cup olive oil ✔ 3 garlic cloves, minced ✔ 1 Tbsp. sweet paprika ✔ Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat oven to 200º.
Place lemon, onions, peppers, thyme, garlic and olives in a deep baking dish. Drizzle a little oil over the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Season chicken with oil, paprika, salt and pepper and place on top of the vegetables.
Bake for 45 minutes until chicken is done and browned nicely. Remove from oven and leave for a few minutes until bubbling stops. Remove the chicken and slice on a cutting board. Return the chicken into the baking dish to soak up some of the sauce, and serve.
These stuffed peppers are prepared in traditional Aleppo (Syrian) style, which uses a lot of fresh herbs.
✔ 6 peppers – use different colors ✔ 5 dried apricots ✔ 5 prunes, pitted
For the stuffing: ✔ 250 gr. ground beef ✔ ⅔ cup bulgur, medium size ✔ 2 Tbsp. oil ✔ 1 onion, chopped ✔ ½ tsp. salt ✔ 1 Tbsp. sugar ✔ 1 tsp. Baharat seasoning mix ✔ 2 cups chopped herbs (use parsley, coriander, dill and mint)
For the sauce: ✔ 100 gr. tomato paste ✔ 3 cups boiling water ✔ ½ tsp. salt ✔ 1 Tbsp. pomegranate concentrate ✔ 2 Tbsp. sugar ✔ 2 Tbsp. oil
To prepare the peppers for stuffing: Cut off the tops and remove seeds.
To prepare stuffing: Soak bulgur in 2 cups of boiling water for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan and sauté the onion until it is transparent. Strain the bulgur and mix with the onion and the rest of the stuffing ingredients.
Stuff the peppers all the way and arrange in a wide pot. Stick the dried fruit between the peppers. If you have any stuffing left, you may stuff the dried fruit with it.
Mix together the sauce ingredients and pour over the peppers. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook covered for 40 minutes, until peppers are tender and the meat is cooked.
Or you may arrange the peppers in a baking dish and bake at 180º until done. If necessary, add more boiling water. At the end of cooking, the sauce should be thick.
Using peppers instead of cucumbers in this recipe gives the soup a fresh twist, as the peppers give it lovely color and flavor. The amount of cheese you use can be adjusted to your liking.
✔ 3 cups goat yogurt ✔ 100-150 gr. goat feta cheese ✔ 5 roasted peppers, peeled and seeds removed ✔ 5 basil leaves ✔ 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar ✔ Sugar and salt ✔ Garnish: Olive oil, basil leaves
Blend all the ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving.
Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a few basil leaves.
Recipes and photos courtesy of Al Hashulchan.