This is a healthy and comforting Romanian main dish I love very much in winter. I have modified slightly my mum’s recipe, to use less fatty minced meet and is still delicious! Although is a dish for meat lovers, can be changed for the vegetarians or vegans stuffing the peppers only with rice and vegetables. For a bit of a trivia, in Australia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Singapore and New Zealand people use the word Capsicum while people in US, UK, Canada and Ireland will call it Bell PepperBon appétit!

Step 1 – Prepare 8 or 10 medium size capsicum

Choose medium size capsicum. I do like the red one as they tend to be more “meaty” and have a sweet flavor.  Cut the tops off the capsicums and remove the seeds and membranes. Blanch the capsicums and their tops in boiling water for 1 minute. Lift out the capsicums with a slotted spoon, then drain, cut-side down, on paper towel. The health benefits of capsicum include relief from stomach issues, back pain, muscle spasms, headaches, cancer, skin aging, peptic ulcers, menopausal problems, lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. It has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, and may also provide relief from pain related to arthritis. Capsicum also helps with fibromyalgia and psoriasis.

Step 2 – Prepare the mixed vegetables

Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat add 2 table spoons of olive oil. Chop and fry slightly in  the following vegetables: 1 brown onion, 2 garlic cloves, 2 medium size carrots, 1 bunch of European parsley and 1 one chilly (as hot as you like it). The health benefits of carrots include reduced cholesterol, lower risk of heart attacks, prevention of certain cancers, improved vision, and reduced signs of premature aging. Furthermore, carrots have the ability to improve the skin, boost the immune system, improve digestion, protect cardiovascular health, detoxify the body, and boost oral health in a variety of ways.

Step 3 – Prepare the black rice

Boil 100g of black rice and let it cool. Mix with the fried vegetables prepared before.  The black rice, known as forbidden rice, is an ancient grain that has more health benefits than the closely related rice varieties. It is the type of rice that is richest in powerful disease-fighting antioxidants, but it also contains dietary fiber, anti-inflammatory properties, and has the ability to help stop the development of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and even weight gain.

Step 4 – Prepare the minced meat

 In a large bowl combine the minced meet: 500g turkey and 500g chicken. Add salt and pepper,  cumin and cinnamon  and any other aromas to taste. Mix well then add the vegetables and the black rice mixture and continue to mix until you obtain an homogeneous paste. The original recipe is using fatty pork and beef meat. However, turkey meat is a good source of iron, zinc, potassium and phosphorus. It is also a source of vitamin B6 and niacin, which are both essential for the body’s energy production. Regular turkey consumption can help lower cholesterol levels. The meat is low-GI and can help keep insulin levels stable. To make the mixture taste better and for extra good fat and fiber just add 2 tablespoons of chia seeds.

Step 5 – Stuff the capsicums, prepare the sauce and bake

Stuff the capsicum the mixture prepared above and place them in a large pot. To make the sauce, blend two cans of peeled tomato puree, add salt and pepper. Pour this over the peppers. Add more water if needed, there should be enough water to come about half way up the peppers. Cover the pot with a lid or aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour covered. Remove the lid and continue baking for another 20 minutes to 30 minutes uncovered. The stuffed capsicums are ready when you insert a fork in a pepper and it goes easy through the skin of the capsicum and meat, and the rice is cooked.

Serve these hot with lots of sauce and a dollop of natural yogurt on top, along side some crusty bread for dipping in the sauce. 😉