After the excesses of the holiday season for the last few weeks, it is natural to think about eating a little healthier and a little lighter. As you are well aware, the Mediterranean diet is considered one of the world’s healthiest.
This meal follows along this healthy tradition…lots of vegetables, grain, and just a little meat all brought together with olive oil and fresh herbs. Two peppers…one stuffed with rice, feta and herbs and the other stuffed with rice and a very small portion of meat. Served with a fresh Greek Salad and grilled whole wheat pita, this is a flavorful meal… vibrant in color and appeals to all the senses.
Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers Two Way
- 2 peppers, stems removed, cut in half and seeded
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup of rice
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil plus additional for drizzling
- 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. fresh mint
- 1/2 lemon (juice plus zest)
- 1/2 c. feta cheese
- 2 or 3 Tbsp. toasted pine nuts
- 1 large plum tomato, chopped fine
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 can chicken broth or water (for baking)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Steam pepper halves until just starting to turn soft but still hold their shape (I use the microwave) and let cool.
Saute onion with 1 Tbsp. olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and cook for one minute more. Place in a large mixing bowl. Cook rice according to package directions but only until al dente, drain and put in mixing bowl. Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil, all of the herbs, lemon juice and zest, feta cheese, pine nuts, and tomato. Salt and pepper to taste and let cool slightly. *This dish can be prepared vegetarian…if so just skip the next section and bake according to directions.
- 1/4 lb. or more of ground beef or lamb
- 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- salt and pepper to taste
Brown meat in a skillet, breaking up chunks, until just brown. Add oregano, cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste. Place in a mixing bowl, add one half of the rice mixture and let cool slightly.Stuff the pepper halves with the rice mixture and place in a baking dish. If you wish you can add cubed potatoes between the peppers to hold them in place. Add chicken broth or water and drizzle with additional olive oil. Bake until peppers (and potatoes, if using) are soft and tender, approximately 30 minutes.
The stuffed peppers were served with roasted potatoes that were cooked in the same pan with the peppers and soaked up their delicious juices. A Greek salad and whole wheat pita completed this meal.
The flavors were incredible and the meal was very satisfying. The total amount of meat in this meal was 4 ounces for two persons (2 oz. each). If you wish to make the meal totally vegetarian…just make the peppers without the meat. Believe it or not, the vegetarian pepper was the favorite of my husband and myself.
I hope you will enjoy this meal and feel healthier after doing so.