Have just spent a few weeks tasting the delights of Croatian cuisine. Being by the Adriatic Sea, this focussed mainly on sea-food; squid, clams, lobster and the ubiquitous octopus salad. But one of our favourite dishes was the Croatian take on stuffed peppers. Having looked into the traditional method of boiling these vegetables I’ve chosen to offer you a baked version due to ease of preparation but still with the authentic sauce poured around them during the cooking process for optimal flavour and consistency. Try these peppers with mashed potato for a genuine sense of Croatian cooking.
mixed red or green peppers 4
lamb mince 400g
onion 1 large, chopped
garlic 3 cloves, finely sliced
1 stick of celery finely chopped
cinnamon 1/2 tsp plus 1 pinch
paprika ½ teaspoon
fresh mint, finely sliced 1 tablespoon plus 1 pinch
80g of basmati rice, cook to al dente or less (slightly undercooked then the rice will absorb some meat flavours)
flat-leaf parsley a small bunch, chopped
chicken or veg stock 200ml
1. Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Slice the tops off the peppers, remove and discard the seeds and drizzle with a little oil. Sit them in a snug baking dish, cover with foil and put in the oven to start cooking while you make the filling.
2. Heat a little olive oil in a pan and cook the lamb mince until browned all over. Add the onion, garlic and celery then cook until completely softened. Add the cinnamon and paprika. Cook for a minute. Stir in the rice, mint and parsley and mix well. Season with a little salt and pepper to taste. Add a sprinkle of chilli if you like a spicy kick to your food.
3. Take the peppers out of the oven and spoon in the lamb mix, do not overfill as rice will expand when cooking. Mix the passata and stock with 2 tbsp olive oil. Season and add another pinch of cinnamon and mint. Spoon over and around the peppers. Put the foil back on and bake in the oven for 1 hour. The peppers ideally should be tender and just holding their shape. Serve with salad or for a more Croatian feel you could serve the peppers with mashed potato, spooning over the sauce which will blend well with the mash.
This latter option lends itself well to the autumnal new season.