Tasting Jerusalem: Ruth’s Stuffed Romano Peppers

Growing up, I thought the only peppers that existed in the world were green bell peppers. Romanos? Padrons? Serranos? They didn’t exist in my food world. My mom frequently served us green pepper steak and we gobbled it up. The steak was great – not so sure about the peppers.

Tasting Jerusalem

Fast forward to 2013 and my realization that peppers sometimes aren’t green and come in a myriad of shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors. Having moved up the pepper learning curve, I decided to prepare the stuffed peppers from the cookbook Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi. It was the first time I ever stuffed a pepper. Please don’t think less of me for it. At least I finally took the plunge. And what a lovely, fragrant, hearty, soul-satisfying plunge it was!

Tasting Jerusalem

The recipe is called Ruth’s Stuffed Romano Peppers. Ruth is Mr. Ottolenghi’s mom. Now that I’ve eaten her stuffed peppers, well I want to meet her, cook with her, and share a meal with her.

The romano peppers are part of the sweet pepper family that includes bell peppers of all colors. But romanos are longer, thinner, and taste, to me, more like hot peppers, than bell peppers but without making you sweat and pant your way through the meal.

Tasting Jerusalem

In Ruth’s recipe, these skinny beauties are stuffed with a basmati rice and lamb mixture flavored with Baharat spice mix, cardamom, dried mint, fresh dill and parsley as well as sautéed onion that is mixed with the dry spices. The Baharat mix I used contains nutmeg, black pepper, coriander seed, cumin seed, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, paprika, and chili. You can read more about this warm and fragrant Middle Eastern spice in our August Tasting Jerusalem post. You can mix your own Baharat or find it at a local Middle Eastern market or purchase it online from your favorite spice vendor, such as sadaffoods.com.

Tasting Jerusalem

After making the peppers, I realized the process can easily be broken into stages, allowing you to prepare them up to the cooking point ahead of time, and just cook them right before you serve. Or even cook them ahead and reheat.  Our two-day-old leftovers maintained their flavor and shape. The filling mixture can also be prepared ahead. The peppers can be cleaned, cut, and stored for a bit in the fridge. Or you can fill them and refrigerate until you are ready to cook. Lots of options.

Tasting Jerusalem

I made a few minor adjustments to the recipe. Courtesy of Adam of Victorian Farmstead Meats, I had 9 oz. of organic grass fed beef to try so I subbed that in for part of the lamb, using a combination of both meats. The recipe uses onions twice – once sauteed with the dry spices for the filling and then again raw underneath the peppers with some tomatoes. I decided to saute the onions that the peppers sat on for about 10 minutes, rather than just using them raw. I also mixed vegetable broth and chicken broth, rather than using 100% vegetable. And I heard from another member of our Tasting Jerusalem group, Michelle of Daily Waffle blog, that you can skip the pre-cooking of the rice – it will cook up just fine when you cook the peppers in the broth for an hour. Nice time-saver Michelle!

Tasting Jerusalem

I couldn’t find fresh dill at my market so I used a smaller amount of dried – that seemed fine. And as you can see from the pictures, I used both red and green versions of the peppers. I can’t confirm that the greens were actually romanos as well but they were sweet style peppers and worked just perfectly.

Tasting JerusalemTasting Jerusalem

You can find the recipe on the The Guardian web site, posted about one year ago or better yet, buy the cookbook Jerusalem, join our cooking and conversation at the Tasting Jerusalem virtual cooking community and delve a little deeper into Ruth’s son’s cooking wizardry.



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8 Responses to Tasting Jerusalem: Ruth’s Stuffed Romano Peppers

  1. Deb August 29, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

    My mom stuffed green peppers, but I never cared for their strong taste once they had cooked. I was also thrilled to learn that all peppers don’t have the same flavor! I finally bought Jerusalem and can’t wait to try a few recipes. Ruth’s Stuffed Peppers would be a great place to begin!

    • Beth Lee September 6, 2013 at 9:34 am #

      Oh Deb, I am so excited that you bought Jerusalem. Please do come and chat with us and share your experiences with our Tasting Jerusalem group either on Twitter/Instagram under the #TastingJrslm or on our Facebook or Google + page under Tasting Jerusalem. For September we are cooking recipes using pomegranate molasses. I am writing up the details right now.

      I loved these peppers and feel excited that I would do it again. I agree with you about “my mom’s stuffed peppers”. That’s why I had never made them.

  2. Hannah August 29, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

    Beautiful, Beth! I haven’t had romano peppers before and now I’ll keep my eyes open. I”m not a big fan of green peppers and these sound so good. The filling looks just delicious, too – what a marvelous dish to welcome autumn! Sadly, with our move this month, I haven’t had a chance to cook with the baharat spice mix yet…I mixed some up and will definitely be making something soon. Hopefully I can find some romanos and make this dish!

    • Beth Lee September 6, 2013 at 9:36 am #

      And if not romanos, perhaps another variety of a similar vein – just ask if they are sweet or spicy, I bet you can find something similar.

      Let me know when you get a chance to “do the Baharat”. I will add you into the round-up whenever you do. Hope you are getting settled!

  3. Couscous & Consciousness September 5, 2013 at 12:17 am #

    This looks gorgeous, Beth. I can;t wait to try this one when summer rolls around and peppers are plentiful. I often see peppers over the summer that look like these ones – can’t be sure that they are actually romano peppers, but they are long and thin like these and tend towards sweet rather than hot. I like your way of preparing the dish in stages to save time when it comes to cook time – I’ve found that I can do a lot of Ottolenghi dishes in this way, and it often makes a slightly more complicated dish a lot more do-able. Good tip on the rice too – I would easily expect it to cook through in one hour.

    • Beth Lee September 6, 2013 at 9:40 am #

      I can’t actually say that the peppers I bought were romanos either – but they certainly served the exact same purpose and carried the same characteristics!

      Yes, the key to the Ottolenghi dishes is breaking down the tasks. You can’t get that kind of flavor without a bit of effort but with a little planning, it’s doable even during the week.

      I love that we can all share these tips, like Michelle’s rice tip or how to break dishes down into smaller tasks, within this group. I think it’s one of the most valuable parts of building this community. Collectively, we’re that neighbor-next-door who loves to cook for each other, even if thousands of miles apart! Hope all is well Down Under!!


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    […] inspired Michelle from Daily Waffle blog to write about one-dish wonders while I was motivated to stuff a pepper for (gasp) the very first time! (Michelle’s photo is on the left) And our member Maria from Hong Kong, created her own […]

  2. Tasty Touring » Blog Archive » Ottolenghi Recipes from Plenty and Jerusalem - November 10, 2013

    […] Ruth’s Stuffed Romano Peppers from Jerusalem […]

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