Ruth’s Stuffed Romano Peppers Recipe

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Ruth’s stuffed Romano peppers recipe from the Jerusalem Cookbook is Yotam Ottolenghi’s mother’s recipe. I first made this treasured dish in August 2013 shortly after we started our Tasting Jerusalem group and have put it on repeat since. (This post was first published in 2013, updated July 2019).

Stuffed Romano Peppers – Filled with Meat, Rice, Spices, and Love

red and green stuffed Romano peppers in pan

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

Fast forward to my adult 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 Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami 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!

red Romano peppers stuffed and ready to cook in pan with white towel

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

What are Romano Peppers?

The Romano peppers are part of the sweet pepper family that includes bell peppers of all colors. But Romanos are longer, thinner and, to me, have the flavor of hot peppers without the searing heat.

red and green peppers on bamboo cutting board

Where Can I Buy Romano Style Peppers?

You should be able to find Romano peppers or a substitute for them in your local large chain grocer or small local grocers such as Middle Eastern, Indian, or Mexican stores.

What Can I Substitute for Romano Peppers?

Anaheims or Poblanos should be a perfect substitute for Romanos. But the red of the Romano is stunning if you find them. Or try a combination of Anaheim and Romano – combining the red and green is visually appealing and the flavors work very well together.

What is Baharat Spice Mix?

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. Baharat (pronounced ba-har-ot) means “spices” in Arabic – and that’s exactly what it is: a versatile mix of warm spices used commonly in Arabic cuisine. 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 this Tasting Jerusalem post.

basmati rice bag, raw peppers, and baharat spice blend bottle

You can also mix your own Baharat or find it at a local Middle Eastern market or purchase it online from your favorite spice vendor (suggestions below). If you want to make this Romano peppers recipe and don’t have the Baharat, just combine as many of the Baharat spices as you have on hand and let your nose guide you. If you like the way it smells, it will taste great in the stuffing mixture.

How to Cook Stuffed Peppers

Break down the process into stages

  1. You can prepare the stuffed peppers up to the cooking point ahead of time, and just cook them right before you serve.
  2. Or you can cook them ahead and reheat. Our two-day-old leftovers maintained their flavor and shape.
  3. The filling mixture can also be prepared ahead.
  4. The peppers can be cleaned, cut, and stored in the refrigerator for a short time.

collage showing how to make stuffing for peppers

Adapt the recipe to your ingredients on hand

  1. The first time I made these stuffed peppers, I had 9 oz. of organic grass-fed beef so I subbed that in for part of the lamb, using a combination of both meats.
  2. The recipe uses onions twice – once sautéed with the dry spices for the filling and then again raw underneath the peppers with some tomatoes. I decided to sauté the onions that the peppers sat on for about 10 minutes, rather than just using them raw.
  3. I also mixed vegetable broth and chicken broth, rather than using 100% vegetable.
  4. 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!
  5. I couldn’t find fresh dill at my market, so I used a smaller amount of dried – that worked out fine.
  6. And as you can see from the pictures, I used both red and green versions of the peppers. The green ones were likely Anaheim peppers. They were sweet peppers and worked just perfectly.

I’ve included my version of the recipe below. But I encourage you to buy the cookbook Jerusalem, and join our cooking conversation on the Tasting Jerusalem Facebook page and group where we delve deeper into Ruth’s son’s cooking wizardry and explore the fabulous flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean.

What Should you Serve with this Stuffed Romano Peppers Recipe?

Farmers Market Chopped Salad

Roasted Asparagus Salad with Preserved Lemon

Summer Corn, Tomato, and Edamame Salad

Kale Salad with Apples

Persian Cucumber and Tomato Salad

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Supplies for Making Stuffed Peppers


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red Romano peppers stuffed and ready to cook in pan with white towel
5 from 3 votes
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Stuffed Romano Peppers

This stuffed Romano peppers recipe from the Jerusalem Cookbook is a gem from Yotam Ottolenghi’s mom, Ruth. It was my foray into stuffed peppers and hope it will be yours too!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Keyword Ottolenghi, Romano peppers, Stuffed peppers
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 6
Calories 359 kcal

Ingredients

  • 8 medium Romano peppers or other mild sweet peppers like Anaheim
  • 10-20 cherry tomatoes about 1 cup
  • 2 medium onions coarsely chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock or a combination of both

Stuffing

  • ¾ cup basmati rice
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Baharat spice mix store bought or homemade
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 14 oz ground lamb or beef or a combination
  • 2 ½ tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill
  • 1 ½ tablespoons dried mint
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Instructions

Stuffing

  1. First prepare the stuffing. You can partially pre-cook the rice as the original recipe suggests but I found, as did other members of our Tasting Jerusalem community, that you can add the rice uncooked to the filling and it will cook while the stuffed peppers are cooking. If you want to pre-cook it, put the rice in a sauce pan covered with lightly salted water, bring to a boil and let it cook for 4 minutes. Then drain and run cold water over it and set it aside.
    ingredients for stuffing in red bowl unmixed
  2. Now sauté the Baharat and cardamom in the frying pan you
    will eventually place the stuffed peppers in (just trying to minimize dirty
    dishes). Ottolenghi calls this dry-frying the spices. Just heat your fry pan to
    about medium to medium high and add the spices in and mix around for 15 – 30 seconds
    to release some of the flavor.

    baharat and cardamom in pan for dry frying
  3. Now add the olive oil and chopped onion and sauté until the onion is translucent and soft. Probably 7 - 10 minutes.
    onions sauteed with baharat
  4. While the onion is sautéing, add the rice, meat, herbs, sugar and kosher salt to a large mixing bowl. When the onion is done, let it cool just a bit and add it to the meat mixture in the large bowl. Use your hands to mix it all together.
    stuffing for romano peppers recipe all mixed in red bowl

Prepare the peppers

  1. Starting at the stalk end of the pepper, cut a slit about ¾ of the way down the pepper to create a long opening. Gently remove the seeds from the inside. Fill each pepper with approximately equal amounts of the stuffing. Hard to give an exact amount since peppers are not a standard size. Just stuff them as best you can and then add in more to each pepper to finish off the filling – ok if the stuffing bulges out a bit but don’t over pack or rip the peppers. The rice will expand a bit when it cooks.
    red and green peppers on bamboo cutting board

Cook the stuffed peppers

  1. Place the remaining chopped onion in the large fry pan where the peppers will go and sauté them until they soften a bit – 5 minutes or so. The original recipe doesn’t call for this but I found it added some good flavor. Skip this step if you’d like.
  2. Add the tomatoes to the pan as well. The onions and tomatoes form the base that the peppers sit on. Place the peppers on top and then add enough stock to come up about 1/8 of an inch on the peppers. Season with a bit more kosher salt and pepper if you’d like. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and let it simmer for about an hour. Periodically check the amount of liquid in the pan and ensure there is always a bit there. You want these peppers to steam inside that pin.
    red and green stuffed Romano peppers in pan
  3. You’ll know they are done by the color of the filling, the size of the rice and the shade of the peppers. Or cut one open and check if you feel unsure. These peppers can be served warm or at room temperature. And they are excellent leftover the next day.
    close up of red and green cooked peppers in pan

Recipe Notes

Notes
• If you don’t have fresh dill, dry will work. I tried it.
• If you don’t have dried mint, omit it or try a touch of fresh.
• I haven’t tried it without the sugar, but I bet you could omit it and the filling would be fine.
• If you don’t have Baharat spice mix, buy some or make some, it’s so good. BUT, you can use as many of these as you have around for the stuffing to approximate the flavor: nutmeg, black pepper, coriander seed, cumin seed, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, paprika, and chili. And you can flavor the meat to your liking – the basic recipe will still work.
• Can’t find Romano peppers? Substitute Anaheims or any elongated sweet, mild pepper or mix the two as I did the first time I made this recipe. Makes for a beautiful presentation.

 

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13 Responses to Ruth’s Stuffed Romano Peppers Recipe

  1. Laura August 26, 2019 at 10:16 am #

    5 stars
    Wow! What a spectacular meal! I’ve stuffed bell peppers but not these romano peppers. And the stuffing sounds incredible.

  2. wilhelmina July 26, 2019 at 7:21 am #

    5 stars
    This is such a great meal! So hearty and satisfying!

    • Beth Lee July 26, 2019 at 8:43 am #

      So glad you enjoyed it! And yes it is comforting and hearty, for sure.

  3. Ashley July 26, 2019 at 5:30 am #

    5 stars
    We love stuffed peppers and were looking for an alternative to our usual recipe. These are so good! I love that they use romano peppers. Will be making again!

    • Beth Lee July 26, 2019 at 8:43 am #

      Yay! So glad to hear you found them to be a great alternative to the usual stuffed bell peppers!

  4. 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!!

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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

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

  2. Tasting Jerusalem: Tart, Tangy, Tantalizing Pomegranate Molasses - OMG! Yummy - September 8, 2013

    […] 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 […]

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