These vegetarian/vegan stuffed peppers are perfect for a summer’s day and quite easy to make. What is there not to like about them? They filled the house with a very pleasant smell and tasted awesome.
Critic No.1 has declared this week a vegetarian week and I’m amazed at how tweaking with Persian recipes to make them vegetarian is working so nicely.We had a real vegetarian feast. He was very pleased!
The usual Persian stuffed peppers are made with rice, mince and lots of herbs. They are always very subtly spiced. I Kept the Persian herbs and spices but instead of rice used the pearl couscous that was sitting in a cabinet for a while, waiting to grace a special dish. The recipe here will work equally well with regular rice, couscous or even bulgur wheat. I may even use toasted orzo next time. When any of these combines with my secret ingredient the result will be finger-licking!
Can you guess the secret ingredient? Right there where the spoon is in the picture above?
OK, I won’t keep it a secret. It was aubergine, or eggplant as they call it in the US, with some mushrooms that I chopped up. In Iran aubergine is the poor man’s chicken. In fact, in the north of Iran it is called “the black bird that doesn’t breath”! Seriously!
I used quite a lot of chopped herbs as you can see in the picture above. That’s what makes all the difference, lots of herbs. The herb mix includes my favourite Persian herb, marzeh. It is called summer savoury/savory in English. But don’t worry if you don’t have it. There are substitutes that work quite nicely.
Summer savoury/savory and its close relative, winter savoury/savory, are very little known in the UK but feature in many European cuisines. I’ve only seen it in dried form in little jars in the supermarket and online here. Dried summer savoury/savory is quite cheap so it is worth giving it a try (1 tablespoon dried for 20g fresh). The flavour is peppery and the aroma is amazing. When not available you can use two-thirds fresh oregano or mint and one-third fresh thyme.
If like me you like growing less familiar herbs go for it! Seeds can be ordered online. Follow the packet instructions. A sunny windowsill or the patio will be a perfect place to grow this lovely herb. Once there are three sets of leaves pinch the top to make them bushy. Keep picking the tops as they grow and they will become bushier.
I made quite a lot of stuffing and had some extra because my peppers were rather small. I drizzled some olive oil on it and saved it for the next day, to have on its own for lunch. We had the peppers with a pea shoot salad I made with the tips of the mange touts I’m growing in seed trays. The tips of the little plants need to be pinched to become bushy. I’ll write the recipe for the salad in another post not to make this one too long.
Here is what you need and how to make these gorgeous peppers:
For the couscous: