Lilly Higgins: Bring Middle Eastern magic to comfort food

Traditional dish of spiced rice, lentils and caramelised onion is a bowl of deliciousness

Mujadara stuffed peppers

Mujadara stuffed peppers

 

This week I wanted to do a recipe for rice-stuffed peppers but hadn’t settled on a style. I was tempted to go the cheese and tomato route but then remembered how delicious Mujadara rice is. Mujadara is a traditional Middle Eastern dish of spiced rice, lentils and caramelised onion. It’s pure comfort food. Some of the onions are crispy; others are buttery and melt into the rice. It’s a bowl of deliciousness made from simple pantry staples.

I made the rice dish separately and left out the lentils – you could always add them to make it more substantial. The mint and parsley are stirred through at the end, bringing fresh bright flavour. I’ve roasted the peppers separately, as I find they cook better unstuffed. Everything is then assembled at the end and returned to the oven for five minutes.

You can prep these in advance and store them in the fridge, before reheating and sprinkling with fresh herbs. I like halving the peppers vertically and placing them flat as two halves on the tray. They’re easier to eat and they cook more evenly.

These are a beautiful vegetarian main dish but can also be served alongside barbecued lamb chops or slow-cooked spiced shoulder of lamb. They’re equally good with smoky aubergine baba ganoush and some green salad, as part of a larger summer feast.

You could crumble some feta over them, or serve with a quick yogurt sauce. Stir a spoonful of tahini and a squeeze of lemon juice through a small bowl of natural yogurt, season with a pinch of cumin, black pepper and sea salt. This simple sauce is delicious on so many roasted vegetables, along with a generous handful of herbs. 

Recipe: Mujadara stuffed peppers

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