Make Ahead

Stuffed Peppers a la Haya

August 30, 2010
5 Ratings
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 2 hours
  • Serves 4-6
Author Notes

My cooking mentor and former mother-in-law, Haya, would make a different version of this classic recipe every time she prepared it. She used long grain rice, but I prefer using Arborio ever since I tasted a version prepared by a good friend who owns an Italian restaurant. But, I credit Haya with teaching me how to make this crowd pleaser, as I credit her with teaching me how to buy the best produce at open air markets, introducing me to Mediterranean cooking, and creating dishes around what is fresh and in season.

These stuffed peppers are best when made a day ahead of serving. Leftovers freeze well, and it is always a pleasant reminder of an afternoon's labor to pull out a few frozen servings of this dish on a cold winter's night. Haya did not place mozzarella balls in her version - that is also a tip I learned from my chef friend. —Bevi

What You'll Need
  • 6 or more whole red peppers, or any color of your choice
  • For the Meat Filling
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup Arborio rice, uncooked
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup currants - OPTIONAL
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 plus cups parmesan cheese
  • 6 mini buffalo mozzarella balls, packed in herbed olive oil; OR 6 chunks of mozzarella, formed into 1 inch balls
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
  • For the Tomato Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste, with more to add if the sauce needs thickening at the end of cooking
  • 2 cups Pomi chopped tomatoes, OR 2 14oz cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup stock or water
  • several sprigs thyme, and other herbs of choice
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Start the tomato sauce. Pour the olive oil in a large Dutch oven pot over medium flame. Add the onions, then the garlic, then the carrots, and then the celery and saute until the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the tomato paste and stir in fully to blend. Then, add the diced tomatoes, and again stir until blended. Then, add the wine and cook for a few minutes. Then, add the stock or water. Add fresh herbs of your choice, and cook the sauce over low heat. After a while, add the sugar. Let the sauce simmer while you prepare the filling for the red bell peppers. Please note that fire roasted tomatoes will give the sauce a mildly spicy favor, which some people prefer.
  4. Begin the meat filling. Place all the filling ingredients (note: about 3/4 cup parmesan) EXCEPT the mozzarella balls into a glass bowl, and carefully mix the ingredients so they are well blended.
  5. Slice the tops off the peppers, and remove all seeds. Place the filling in the peppers, but make a hole in the filling you have put in the pepper with your finger so you can insert a mozzarella ball in the center of the pepper as you stuff it.
  6. If the tomato sauce looks like it is somewhat firm and reduced, place the stuffed peppers in the Dutch oven. You may fit them in snugly. Liberally spoon some tomato sauce on and over each stuffed pepper. NOTE: it is going to look like there is not much sauce, but as the stuffed peppers bake in the oven, the peppers and all the vegetables in the meat filling will give off lots of liquid, so in the end there will be plenty of sauce.
  7. Bring to a low boil, cover, and then place the Dutch oven into the oven to bake for at least an hour, and more likely two. Baste the peppers by spooning sauce into the peppers so the arborio rice absorbs liquid. Repeat the basting occasionally.
  8. Test for doneness by taking a tiny taste of rice in one pepper. If the rice is done, you have a few choices. 1) Place a little parmesan cheese over each pepper, and return to the oven until the cheese is melted. Serve. 2) Pull the peppers from the oven, allow them to cool, and refrigerate. If you want to serve them the next day (they will taste even better) take the peppers out of the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature. You can heat them on top of the stove, covered. Test the sauce for desired thickness - adding more tomato paste to stir if necessary.
  9. Serve by slicing each pepper in half, topped with some sauce. Note: One pepper is a very hearty serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • april
  • cocos cooking
    cocos cooking
  • boulangere
  • lapadia
  • Bevi

Recipe by: Bevi

Cooking is an important part of my past. I grew up and worked on our family resort. These days, I cook good food to please my friends and family.

15 Reviews

april December 26, 2020
Why do you need sugar in the tomato sauce? We eat TOO MUCH SUGAR!
Bevi December 27, 2020
Then either leave the sugar out or don’t make this recipe.
Bevi December 27, 2020
Then don’t make this recipe.
boulangere December 28, 2020
A spoonful or two to balance acids in the tomatoes and wine sounds about right.
cocos C. June 30, 2015
Two cups of wine is a lot. I almost wondered if that was a typo but I went with it. Sauce tasted off balance and never thickened up. And I had to bake this for 2 hours for the rice to cook properly. ? Fortunately I was making this for the following day, as recommended.
Bevi June 30, 2015
You are right, the recipe should not have stated 2 cups of wine. That got past me obviously when I put in the ingredients. I will change the ingredient amounts. I am sorry the recipe did not turn out - no wonder it didn't.
boulangere December 15, 2014
This could actually make me like stuffed peppers.
Bevi December 15, 2014
That would make me happy!
boulangere December 15, 2014
Me, too.
lapadia December 16, 2014
Yay to stuffed peppers, especially Red Peppers!
lapadia January 9, 2014
Red pepper is a favorite of mine, this is a delicious, perfect one pot dish. I don't know how I ever missed this...
Bevi January 10, 2014
I have been making this for decades, but within the last few years added the arborio and mozz - hope you approve!
Bevi July 18, 2011
Hi Lida! Let the sauce reduce and become firmer, so it is not watery. Not thick like a smoothie, but slightly thicker than jarred sauce.
Lida July 20, 2011
ahh, yes. got it, and will do! thanks bev.
Lida July 18, 2011
auntie bev! so first of all--- you've converted me to food52. i love it here.

second-- can you please explain the direction that calls for one to wait for the sauce to be "firm and emulsified?" i want to try this recipe but know that i will fret over the readiness of my sauce unless i ask for further details...i've been a strictly semi-homemade cook when it comes to tomato sauce, and think it's due time i amend that.