Small Stuffed Peppers With A Tiny Bite

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Around these parts, we've entered the season for a type of small bell pepper called a poivron petit Marseillais (the little Marseille pepper). Ranging in size from about 2.5 cm (an inch or so) to 5 cm (2 inches) in length, they have thin walls and a slight bite. They are pretty similar to the Padrón pepper from the Spanish town of the same name. While I usually just use the petit Marseillais in stir fries, it's rather fun to stuff the little guys too. They take much less time to cook than their big brothers, and can be cooked on the stovetop rather than heating up the oven - which in the hot summer months is a plus. I can comfortably fit about 30 stuffed pepper halves in a large frying pan. (Note: the little green peppers in the photo are the petit Marsaillais. The red and yellow peppers are no-name chili peppers I got at the supermarket. They worked well too.

You can make this with any sweet or spicy small pepper, as long as it's not too hot. I would not use a habanero (Scotch bonnet) pepper for example, but a mild chili pepper like ancho or jalapeño should work fine. The spiciness of the pepper itself adds a nice bite. In Japan I'd use shishito peppers. If you're using chili-type peppers, just make sure to remove the seeds and the white parts inside.

Because of their mini-size, this works well in bentos (but I'm posting it here since JustBento is still undergoing reconstruction ^_^;. They're also good as appetizers, a main course or as party snacks, although in the last case you may want to serve them on a small napkin or secured with a pick, since the pepper falls easily off the filling.

They are as easy to make as regular stuff peppers really, just a tiny bit more fiddly.

Recipe: Small stuffed peppers

stuffedminipepper2.jpg

A mini-version of the usual stuffed pepper.

Prep time: 15 min :: Cook time: 15 min :: Total time: 30 min

Yield: 30 stuffed pepper halves

Serving size: 3 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 15 small peppers, either sweet peppers or mild chili peppers
  • For the filling:
  • 250 g / about 8 oz ground beef, about 90% lean (10% fat)
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons soft breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons milk or plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • a few grinds black pepper
  • a few grates nutmeg
  • -------------
  • cornstarch (corn flour) or potato starch
  • olive oil for cooking
  • chopped parsley (optional)
  • lemon juice (optional)

Directions:

  1. Cut the peppers in half and remove the stem ends. Remove the seeds and the white parts inside.
  2. Mix the filling ingredients together and knead well with your hands, to form a paste like consistency.
  3. Put the pepper halves in a plastic bag with some cornstarch or potato starch. Shake to coat the pepper. When you take the peppers out of the bag, shake off any excess starch flour. (You want the insides to be coated, but not much on the outsides.)
  4. Fill each pepper half with the meat mixture, pressing it in well to eliminate any air holes.
  5. Heat up a large frying pan and add a little olive oil to coat the bottom. Put the stuffed peppers in meat side down. Cook over medium-high heat until the meat surface is browned, then put on a tight fitting lid, turn the heat down to low, and steam-cook the peppers until cooked through and the peppers are tender. This takes about 8 to 10 minutes. Don't turn the peppers over - there's no need to!
  6. Serve with a little drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, and a sprinkling of parsley - or with ketchup or Worcestershire sauce if you prefer. These work very well in bentos - freeze a few cooked ones and defrost before packing.

Variations

To make this gluten-free, use gluten-free breadcrumbs, or try using 2 tablespoons of cooked plain rice instead of the breadcrumbs. (And use gluten-free cornstarch or potato starch.)

Alternatively, cook the peppers halfway through, and simmer in your favorite tomato sauce.

You can use the mixture to fill regular sized bell peppers. You can fill 4 halves or 2 big bell peppers with this amount. Increase the cooking time to about 15 to 20 minutes with the lid on. There's no need to flip over the big peppers either - the steam in the pan will cook them through nicely.

Use your favorite stuffed pepper filling if you like.

(Metadata below:)

By Makiko Itoh

Published: August 20, 2013

Type: meat, main, bento-friendly

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