Jewish Recipes
Sephardic Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers Recipe
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Sephardic Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers - meat

1 large onion
5 Tablespoons vegetable oil
6 large, ripe firm tomatoes
4 large green or red peppers
1/2 cup Persian rice
1 cup chopped parsley
800 grams [close to 2 lb] ground beef
2 small containers of tomato concentrate [I make this to be
200 grams/7 oz. tomato paste]
1-1/2 Tablespoons sugar
salt to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste
5 Tablespoons olive oil
juice of one-half lemon
1-1/2 cups dry white wine (water may be substituted) preserved grapevine
leaves (optional)

Peel and chop the onion and saute' in the oil until golden.

Fill a large pot with 2 liters/quarts salted water and bring to a boil. Remove caps from peppers and remove seeds from inside. Blanch peppers in boiling water for 5 minutes, then remove with slotted spoon.

SEPHARDIC KITCHEN LAW: Before stuffing a pepper, blanch it for a few minutes for a softer, more pliable texture.

Remove tomato tops and scoop out their contents into a bowl, which will preserve the juices.

SEPHARDIC KITCHEN LAW: Always cook meat-stuffed vegetables with a sauce from chopped fresh tomatoes.

Put half the amount of parsley in a large bowl, and add the sauteed onion, ground beef, rice, one teaspoon of sugar, some salt and a generous helping of ground black pepper.

Chop the tomato pulp into small pieces in a food processor. Process the tomatoes for a few seconds so that the tomato pulp is not mashed into a thin puree.

Add half of the chopped tomatoes to the meat mixture and mix with both hands.

SEPHARDIC KITCHEN LAW: Certain things need to be mixed by hand, especially meat and rice. This way the mixture retains its volume. You will understand why after you have tried it once. This old-fashioned act of gently kneading and shaping without any kitchen tools feels just right.

If you use grapevine leaves, line a heavy-bottomed pan with one layer of leaves. Stuff the peppers and the tomatoes and arrange them in the pan, standing up.

SEPHARDIC KITCHEN LAW: When stuffing a vegetable, a light hand is needed. Do not push down the meat mixture. This way the cooking liquids will have room to seep into the rice grains.

Mix all the sauce ingredients: the tomato concentrate; water, wine, the remaining parsley, the remaining chopped tomatoes and their juice, the lemon juice, the salt, ground pepper and one tablespoon of sugar.

Pour the sauce generously over the stuffed vegetables and around them. Bring to a boil, cover tightly and reduce the heat. Cook over a low heat for an hour. Let stand, covered, for at least a half hour.

MOST IMPORTANT SEPHARDIC KITCHEN LAW: Every dish takes its own time, not just in gentle, relaxed cooking but also in standing. This lets the flavors combine; the rice is puffed up by the steam, and the meat and the herbs soak up more of the cooking liquids.

This dish is delicious served warm or at room temperature.

This is from _Ha'aretz Guide_ of September 12, 1997. It's by Nira Russo, who has published a large number of cookbooks in Hebrew, with some having been translated into English.

She entitled the article "The Ultimate Sephardic Experience," capturing some of her mother-in-law's culinary "tricks and old kitchen methods."


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