Lebanese Stuffed Peppers

If you’re looking for an easy, healthy weeknight dinner (and who isn’t?), you need to try these Lebanese Stuffed Peppers. Some people call them Mahshi, my family calls them Meshi. (We’re Lebanese on my dad’s side, with a wee bit of Irish, which explains my pasty alabaster complexion.) Meshi, Mahshi. Tomato, To-mah-to. Point is, it’s delicious.

Mahshi, (which sounds like a hoity-toity version of meshi) is stuffed peppers, squash and grape leaves. I prefer the peppers, because they’re super easy, even for a weeknight. They’re probably a lot like the stuffed peppers you’re used to (thanks, Stouffer’s) with the addition of one magical ingredient.

Ready for it?

Cinnamon. Cinnamon in savory foods is incredible. It has a secret love affair with red meat that should be celebrated. And this dish uses it to its best advantage.

Since my mom passed away, my dad have been breaking out the old Lebanese recipes as a way to connect over good food. You can get through a lot of tough times stirring, simmering, salting and savoring.

Like I said, this dish is very easy, and as usual I’m not giving you a recipe as much as a technique.

Lebanese Stuffed Peppers

Here’s all you need to make Lebanese Stuffed Peppers:

8 bell peppers
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 cup Minute Rice
1 large can of diced tomatoes with juice
1 small can of diced tomatoes with juice
kosher salt
3 tbs. cinnamon or to taste
more cinnamon for sprinkling

I cut the top off eight peppers.  (Remove the stems and save the tops) I use a variety of colors because they’re prettier, but all green is fine. I hollow out the peppers and salt the inside with a little kosher salt.

In a large bowl, I mix a pound of lean ground beef, a cup of Minute Rice (sacrilege to serious cooks, I know, but a quicker cooking rice lets the peppers stay a little al dente, which I prefer), a large can of diced tomatoes with juice, a generous amount of kosher salt and a ton of cinnamon.

Most recipes call for a tablespoon of cinnamon. I never just use a teaspoon of cinnamon, any more than I use a teaspoon of good vanilla.  I’d say I use about 3 tablespoons of cinnamon in my meshi (I mean Mahshi).

Fill the peppers and put them in a Dutch oven. Remember those pepper tops you saved? I put them on the bottom of the Dutch oven and set the peppers on top of them like little stands. Keeps them from tipping over. Sprinkle with more cinnamon.

Fill the pot a little over halfway with water and another smaller can of diced tomatoes.  Cover (but not completely) and bring to gentle boil, till the peppers can be easily pierced and the meat is cooked through. It takes less than 20 minute. I spoon some of the boiling liquid into the peppers just to keep them moist.

And then, enjoy. I promise you will.

Have you tried Lebanese Stuffed Peppers before? Are you a fan of Lebanese cuisine. Do you cook family recipes with your parents or your own auntie?

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