Stuffed Baby Peppers with Bulgur, Tuna, and Preserved Lemon
These flavor-packed stuffed peppers make a delicious addition to a holiday cold buffet or a light summer dinner. They are rich, healthy, and satisfying.
If you have been reading this blog for any time at all, you know that I am most inspired by the produce aisle. I go to the store with a plan. Then, I stumble across a gorgeous, seasonal heap of produce and wind up re-thinking my menu on the fly.
One of the ingredients that never ceases to draw my attention — when they’re available — is those gorgeous little, multicolored sweet peppers. I adore them. With their bright oranges, yellows and reds, they look beautiful on the plate and taste good too. So, I jump at opportunities to use them in my dishes.
As you may realize, I also have a weakness for stuffed vegetables. Whether tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, or cabbage rolls, stuffed veggies always appeal to me. Thus, stuffed peppers are a combination that really resonates with the way I like to cook and eat at home.
Moreover, as we get closer to the holiday season, I’ve been working on recipes that can easily be scaled up to feed a crowd. Whether in town or at the beach, a buffet heaped with satisfying nibbles is the best accompaniment to holiday cheer! This recipe — which can be served warm or cold — fits the bill perfectly.
However, since my Zesty Preserved Lemons were almost ready, I wanted to take the formula in a more North African direction. I added a bit of earthy spice and tangy lemon, along with a hint of sweetness from fresh fennel.
The baby peppers are roasted in the oven — which can be done ahead of time. Then, they’re stuffed with the lightly sautéed bulgur and tuna mixture. Finally, they’re finished with a squeeze of lemon, and a shower of fresh herbs. Bright and festive!
I hope your family and friends enjoy these flavors as much as mine do! Bon appétit!
Stuffed Baby Peppers with Bulghur, Tuna, and Preserved Lemon
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These delicious stuffed peppers with North African flavors are a flavorful, light, and colorful starter for holiday parties. However, they also make a delicious weeknight supper, when served with a light soup or salad. The brightness of the lemon beautifully complements the earthy spices.
For the peppers
1.8 kg small sweet peppers (tricolore peppers), cored and left intact
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
For the stuffing
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup bulgur wheat
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 preserved lemon, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups vegetable stock
3/4 cup diced fennel bulb
3/4 cup diced onions
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 chopped anchovy fillets (optional)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 170 g tin, light meat tuna shredded, in brine
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons greek yoghurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup chopped coriander (about 10 grams)
1/3 cup finely sliced mint (about 10 grams)
For garnish (optional)
3 tablespoons coriander leaves
3 tablespoons mint leaves, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 200° C. Toss peppers with 3 tablespoons oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Arrange on a foil lined baking tray and roast until tender, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, in a medium pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add bulgur and toast, stirring, until it smells nutty, about 3 minutes. Add tomato paste, preserved lemon, cumin, cayenne pepper, coriander and salt, and sauté until tomato paste darkens, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the stock, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the bulgur is soft and most of the liquid has evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain off any remaining liquid and set aside to cool.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and heat until shimmering. Add fennel and sauté until just beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add onion, garlic and anchovies (if using). Sauté until vegetables are tender but not soft (a little texture is a good thing), 4 to 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.
Drain tuna thoroughly and put it in a large bowl. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, yogurt, and lemon juice and mash until tuna is broken into small flakes. Mix in onion-celery mixture, bulgur, and herbs, and stir well. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, and lemon juice as needed.
Make a slit lengthwise down each pepper to open it up. Stuff the bulgur mixture into the open peppers, then pinch the peppers so that the stuffing holds the two sides together. (Don't worry if the peppers aren't completely closed.) Arrange on a platter, sprinkle with lemon juice and garnish with herbs. Serve immediately or at room temperature.
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