This recipe here takes me back home, as the flavours remind me of ħobż biż-żejt (translated to bread with oil). In Malta, ħobż biż-żejt is a traditional lunchtime snack. It consists of a traditional Maltese loaf or a ftira (a round flat-ish bread similar to ciabatta) spread with kunserva (a sweet tomato paste), and topped with tuna flakes, olives, capers, broad beans, ġbejniet (local goat cheese), fresh herbs (mint/basil) and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. Toppings may vary depending on tastes and may also include anchovies, giardiniera, fresh tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes.
Back to the recipe… I am stuffing the peppers with a mixture of rice and some of the toppings you will find in the ħobż biż-żejt. I like to make the filling mixture in advance as this allows the flavours to mingle together and as a result the taste will be much better. I also like to char the peppers before filling them as it adds another flavour to the dish.
Since it is really hard for me to get ġbejniet at the moment, I am instead using feta cheese, which compliments the dish and adds a great amount of flavour too. Mozzarella is another good option but it does not add as much flavour. You can either add the cheese to the rice mixture or else crumble it on top and put it under a hot grill for a couple of minutes.
Here in Hungary, there is a different version of stuffed peppers. They are usually stuffed with a mixture of minced pork and served in a tomato sauce. They are delicious as well but maybe not as light as the recipe below.
As the flavours might suggest, this recipe is ideal for the upcoming hot Summer days. It is a light meal which can be served with leafy salad. It can also be served as a starter dish for a family dinner. These peppers can be served warm but are also great eaten cold.
This recipe can be adjusted to be a vegetarian dish by substituting the tuna chunks with chick peas and if the cheese is eliminated, it is also suitable for vegans.
Mediterranean Style Stuffed Red Peppers
A light dinner perfect for a hot Summer day
- 2 large bell peppers, any colour
- 100g wholemeal rice
- 1 can (140g) tuna chunks
- 2 spring onions, finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 70g kalamata olives, roughly chopped
- 10 pieces sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
- handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes (optional)
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- Feta cheese, crumbled
- Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook the rice according to the package instructions.
- Cut the peppers in half, clean the inside from the seeds. Brush with some olive oil and place it on a hot griddle pan. Grill them until they are charred on the outside, they should remain firm.
- In a large salad bowl, mix together the tuna, onions, garlic, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh mint, oregano, basil, chili flakes and smoked paprika. Once the rice is cooked and cooled down add it to the mixture. Season to taste.
- Stuff the pepper halves with the mixture and sprinkle some crumbled feta cheese on top. Place them under a grill for about 10 minutes until golden on top.
- Serve with a simple salad, focaccia / pita bread.