Punjene Paprike (Croatian Stuffed Peppers)

Punjene paprike, or stuffed peppers, are a dish that I make every once in a while when I’m feeling a bit low in iron or just feel like some good, traditional comfort food. As I don’t generally eat beef, I make an exception for this and sarma, the recipe for which also works well with peppers (this is basically the no smoked meats version.) They’re super easy to make to so I can just leave them on the stove and go about getting other things done or entertaining my 5-month old. Usually you make them with Hungarian wax or yellow banana peppers, but–as you can see in the picture–you can make them with whatever you have. Using red or yellow bell peppers actually adds a little bit of a sweetness to the dish that I think pairs well with the filling.

  • Peppers (the amount will depend on their size, maybe 4-5 medium-sized bell peppers), top cut off and seeds removed
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Pinch of Vegeta (optional, but adds a nice flavor)
  • 1/2 lb of ground beef (a mixture of pork and beef works well too. No poultry!)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 containers of pureed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon of sweet paprika
  • 1 bay leaf

First, set a pot to boil and add the rice. Drain and let cool enough to comfortably touch.

As the rice is cooking, caramelize the onions in a small frying pan. Once beginning to brown, add the garlic for an additional minute or two. Set aside.

Next, combine the rice, ground meat (raw), onion, and garlic in a medium-sized bowl. Add a bit of salt and pepper as well as a dash or two of Vegeta. Fill the peppers and place in a pot large enough to hold them. Add the tomato puree, tomato paste, bay leaf, 1 tablespoon of sweet paprika, and enough water to cover the peppers. Season with a bit of salt.

Bring to a boil, then let simmer. After 20 minutes, taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings as needed (add more tomato paste, salt etc.) Cook for an additional 40 minutes.

Serve warm with mashed potatoes.

Enjoy!

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