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.