Stuffed Turkish Peppers
We aren’t done with our pepper poems quite yet. Today we have a haiku, prepared just for you.
Percy the Pepper
Was sent to pepper heaven.
Oh how stuffed he was.
Don’t be sad, Mr. red pepper, you had a flavorful journey! Last April I returned to Istanbul after a twenty-year absence. This time around I visited the Kadiköy neighborhood on the Asian side of Istanbul. This neighborhood is full of cafes, galleries, bars are markets selling delicious fruits and vegetables. I was fascinated by the dried eggplant and peppers from Gaziantep. Gaziantep is famous in Turkey for immensely flavorful rich cuisine. Pepper and eggplant are dried after abundant harvest, then reconstituted and stuffed over the winter months. After boiling, the dried peppers are stuffed with a rich mushroom filling and served with rice.
Rehydrate the dried peppers – Remove the strings from the peppers. In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Turn off the heat. Add the dried peppers, cover and let soften for 1 hour. Drain. Trim the peppers and remove any seeds. Drain and let rest on a kitchen towel while you prepare the filling.
Make the filling – In a food processor, pulse the cashews until coarsely chopped. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 2 -3 more minutes. Add the chopped red pepper and mushrooms, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender. Add the vegetables to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add back to the skillet with the chopped cashews. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the filling is fragrant and the liquids have evaporated about 10-14 minutes.
Stuff each pepper with a spoonful or two of filling, depending on the pepper size. Place the peppers in an oiled deep baking dish and cover with foil. Bake the peppers for 40 minutes. Uncover and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.
Garnish with chopped dill and serve with basmati rice, garlic yogurt, and naan.
- 25 dried Gaziantep peppers
- 1½ cups raw cashews
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large leek, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 large red pepper, chopped
- 10 oz cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
- 3 tbsp pinenuts, toasted
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- 2 tbsp chopped dill
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 2 tsp Urfa biber chiles
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- ½ cup chopped dill