Sometimes, it is the small things…

You might have heard me complaining about not being able to find some vegetables that we use a lot in Turkish cooking here in the US. Small green bell pepper is one of them. I saw the as-big-as-my-head green bell peppers here for the first time. The bell peppers (biber) that grow in Turkey are 1/3 of the size of what would be a usual bell pepper here and also have thinner skin. I have been searching high and low everywhere but had not been able to spot them until several weeks ago.

Once, at the Compare store, I thought I found them and started bagging them like crazy. Only to be stopped by a Spanish speaking lady, feverishly telling me “no..no..no”. I could not quite understand her scare so I turned around to find someone to translate. Well, it turns out they were not the small, sweet peppers I was looking for. I was bagging one of the hottest peppers in Latin cuisine. Gave my big “Thanks” to the lady and put all of them back where they belonged: Their stand.

We have one big regional farmer’s market in Charlotte and I thought if anyone would have these peppers, I am sure they would be coming to the big farmer’s market in the region. So I visited regularly and started asking around. I could buy pointy, long sweet ones all I want but no sweet bell peppers to stuff!

Then, one Saturday morning, on the way to our usual breakfast place, we made a detour and stopped to see our own town’s,  Rock Hill’s Farmer’s Market for the first time. There were only five or six vegetable stands, one local cattle rancher selling meat, a couple handmade jewelry sellers and one or two flower stands. That was it. And the stands  are not big, most people are selling out of their trucks. My first words were “Man!This is small or what!”. I seriously thought the only things I could buy there were corn, onion and tomatoes.

Then I saw the small light green bell peppers with a hint of yellow. The sign said “3 for $1″. My following words were “NO! They can’t be!”.

I went up and asked if they were spicy peppers, preparing myself for the usual answer.  “Oh no” she said…”They are sweet Hungarian peppers”.

Hungarian peppers! Alright then. Bag them up! My husband stopped me at 9, so that is why the recipe below has 9 peppers. I have no idea why I listened to him because I normally don’t.

So I learned my lesson: No matter how small they are, everything has something to offer. Even our town’s little farmer’s market. Looking forward to the next year’s produce.

 

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Bulgur

  • 9 small size (Hungarian) green bell peppers
  • 2 large tomatoes(less or more, depending on how much filling you have left after filling peppers)
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 7 tablespoons bulgur (if you don’t have bulgur, you can try rice or any other grain)
  • 5 tablespoons hot boiling water
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 small cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (optional – for spiciness)
  • 1 tablespoon dry mint (or 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint or dill)
  • 1 medium size tomato, outer part cut up in small pieces to garnish if desired.
  • To pour over the peppers for cooking: Grate one medium size tomato and mix with 1/4 cup of water.

1. Put bulgur in a small bowl, pour hot water over it. Cover, wait for 15 min.

2. Meanwhile, carve the top of the peppers and take the seed section out. Hollow the tomatoes carefully without making any holes.

3.. Mix soaked bulgur, ground beef and the rest of the ingredients. Fill the peppers first, then tomatoes. Leave a little room on top, do not stuff the vegetables too much (maybe 1/4 inch room or so. Put small tomato pieces on top.

4. Place them in a pot, pour over grated tomato-water mixture.

5. Cover the lid tightly, and bring the heat to medium-high until the water boils.

6. Lower the heat to lower level, and cook until done, about 30 min.

7. Serve with yogurt if desired.

 

11 Comments:

  1. by Lana
    9:52 pm
    Sep 9, 2012

    Oh, I know those peppers all too well:) Our markets in Serbia were overflowing with them when I was there this summer! I have not been able to find them in the U.S. so far, but your post gives me hope:)
    We traditionally use rice (the short, roundish Macedonian-grown) and tomato or potato slices as “plugs”.
    My sister lives in Germany and her German husband’s second most favorite dish is stuffed peppers (Balkan style). The first is pilaf:)
    I missed you, BTW! Looking forward to reading your recipes and admiring your beautiful photos!

  2. by Valentina
    12:57 am
    Sep 10, 2012

    beautiful, beautiful peppers!

  3. by Angie@Angie's Recipes
    2:00 pm
    Sep 10, 2012

    There ain’t such small bell peppers in our markets…I guess I will have to stop by the Turkish store next week. These stuffed peppers look mouthwatering!

  4. by Shelley
    12:21 pm
    Sep 11, 2012

    Hungarian peppers- I’ll have to be on the lookout for them here. So glad you finally found your beloved pepper! And what a funny story about the Latin peppers- thank goodness for that sweet lady’s warning!

  5. by Hande
    10:33 am
    Sep 12, 2012

    Ilke cok guzel olmus, eline saglik. bir arkadasim sondan bir onceki fotografta gorulen biber oyma aletini cok begenmis, soruyor, nerden bulabilirim diye (o Almanya’da ama ben kasimda Istanbul’a gidince onun icin alabilirim, eger Turkiyedense). Bir zahmet soyleyebilir misin? Tesekkurler!

  6. by kitchenriffs
    4:45 pm
    Sep 12, 2012

    I rarely see those Hungarian peppers but sometimes do. I’ve not used them before – silly me! But now I know what to do with them! Really useful info, good post – thank you.

  7. by Lisa @ Tarte du Jour
    9:45 pm
    Sep 12, 2012

    Wonderful looking stuffed peppers! I haven’t seen a Hungarian pepper around here… I’ll have to keep an eye out for them at my local farmer’s market. They are beautiful!

  8. by Susan
    6:05 pm
    Sep 13, 2012

    Next time I visit our farmers’ market I will look for these cute smaller peppers. I’m so glad you found them! The filling in your recipe sounds delicious.

  9. by thyme (Sarah)
    10:32 pm
    Sep 17, 2012

    They look delicious. You must have been SO thrilled to spot those at that tiny unsuspecting market. I get that way when I come across good crawfish or pralines or cracklins…all cajun foods from Louisiana.

  10. by Terra
    12:10 pm
    Sep 24, 2012

    I don’t think I have ever had the cute little peppers, but I will have to look for them:-) One of my favorite dinners my mom made for my family was stuffed peppers. I love your addition of bulgur! Yum, Hugs, Terra

  11. by Mrs Ergül
    9:44 pm
    Oct 2, 2012

    Is that a special pepper corer you have there? Looks cool! Love the photo of the pepper dished out of the pot on the spoon!

*: required fields

Leave a Comment

Read the fine print

By submitting a comment you grant Ilke's Kitchen a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate and irrelevant comments will be removed at an admin’s discretion. Your email is used for verification purposes only, it will never be shared.