Stuffed vegetables are a beloved food to so many different cultures in the Mediterranean, Balkans & Middle East. In Greece, we call them gemistá (pronounced: yeh-mee-STAH) and they are a warm-season staple. Out of all of the vegetables that get stuffed and baked, red peppers are our absolute favorite. Gemistá typically have a rice-based filling, but today I share our favorite version, which features ground lamb & cauliflower rice. And trust me, while we love traditional gemistá, these cauliflower rice stuffed peppers have stolen our hearts.
KEY FEATURES OF STUFFED PEPPERS
Stuffed peppers are delicious no matter which way you choose to fill them. Of all the various ways we have eaten them, the following key features are what makes for perfect cauliflower rice stuffed peppers.
- LOTS OF HERBS: Most of the flavor in gemistá comes from the bounty of fresh herbs that are used in the filling. The main herbs used throughout Greece are a combination of parsley, mint, dill, and oregano.
- LONG ROASTING TIME: Especially when you are using bell peppers as your vessel, a long roasting time is key. Adequately roasted peppers develop a deep concentrated flavor & should be so soft that yield to a fork when they are done.
- LETTING THEM REST: Once finished roasting, the peppers are best eaten when they have been allowed to rest until cooled to almost room temperature. The wait is difficult but SO worth it. The cauliflower rice absorbs so much flavor as the peppers cool down.
While we haven’t yet tried to make these cauliflower rice stuffed peppers vegetarian, they are incredible with ground lamb. The richness of lamb pairs so well with the riced cauliflower and the bounty of herbs used in the filling. Especially with the mint, which our garden is just bursting with at the moment. If you aren’t a fan of lamb, or can’t easily procure it, ground beef is a good substitute.
THOUGHTS ON WHAT WE SHARE…
In closing, I couldn’t help but think about current events in Palestine & Israel. In Greek we call these stuffed peppers Gemistá, in Arab they are Mahshi, in Hebrew they are Memulaim. The heaviness in my heart was lifted as I meditated on just how much we have in common. While every culture on earth is unique & different in its own ways, our similarities PROVE that we are all INEXTRICABLY CONNECTED TO ONE ANOTHER. And it is this inherent connectedness that we must hold on to. We must look each other in the eye, human to human, and choose to FOCUS ON WHAT WE SHARE together as humanity, rather than the politically contrived diversions that are meant only to create division and hatred.
The way that we choose to share our work with the world MATTERS and actually can make an INCREDIBLE DIFFERENCE. Take the gorgeous apron that I am wearing in the photo above. It was created as a collaboration by my friend Haifa from fufuskitchen.com and non-profit Darzah.org. This handmade apron comes all the way from Palestine. It was stitched & embroidered by Palestinian women in the West Bank. By wearing this apron, we are not only supporting the Palestinian women whose hands created it, but we are holding onto an olive branch. The Tatreez hand-stitched embroidery of the olive branch on this apron is an ancient symbol of peace. Peace, something we almost uniformly profess to desire, but WHY IS PEACE SO ELUSIVE? Perhaps…
“We have not peace because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”Mother Theresa