Thursday, September 26, 2013

Turkey Stuffed Peppers

6 Stuffed Peppers in Baking Dish
Ready to Bake

Recipe adapted from Mom’s

As of last week it’s been 10 years since my mom died. Cooking was her passion, and it was indeed sad when she had to give it up due to disability in her latter years. Still, she remained interested in food and its preparation till the end, watching cooking show on TV and perusing menus from local restaurants. Even when she was barely able to feed herself, she enjoyed a rich variety of foods and knew which menu items were tastiest. Like many of Mom’s recipes that I’ve blogged, stuffed peppers were made without a written recipe.  Throughout the years I’ve made many attempts to recreate this classic Polish recipe.  Finally, I’ve gotten pretty darn close.

Ground meat, onion, rice, tomato sauce, tomatoes, and spices in frying pan
Classic Polish Stuffing
Part of the challenge in recreating Mom’s recipe is that I wanted to use ground turkey instead of ground beef to make a lighter dish. Since ground turkey doesn’t have the rich taste of beef, I needed to add some extra spices, but finding a balance like Mom’s was key.  Play with the spicing if you like, perhaps throwing black pepper, smoky paprika, cayenne, or Italian seasoning into the mix. You could also try the recipe with lean ground beef.

The slight bitterness of green bell peppers provides contrast with the sweet and savory flavor of the filling, but any other roundish pepper can be used. Red, yellow, and orange bells look festive. Poblanos, featured in some of my photos, are an unusual alternative. They add both a bitter note and spicy heat to the dish.

Be sure to use a quality, fresh paprika. Spanish paprikas are excellent. My favorite brand, La Odalisca, is currently unavailable, but purchasing fresh paprika in bulk at a local herb store is a good alternative.

Halved bell peppers, onion, tomatoes, spices, oil, and tomato sauce
Simple Seasonal Ingredients
Mom’s Stuffed Peppers
serves 6 - 8

~6 green bell peppers, 2 - 2½ lbs.
1 tbsp. olive oil
1¼ lb. ground turkey
1½ cup chopped onion
½ tbsp. olive oil
1½ cup cooked white rice with 1/8 tsp. salt
¾ cup chopped, seeded tomatoes
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. salt
15 oz. can tomato sauce

Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise and remove stem, seeds, and membranes. Parboil pepper halves in large pot of salted water for 3 – 4 minutes, until slightly softened but still bright green (if using thin poblanos, parboil time will be shorter). Remove with tongs, blotting off water with towel. Arrange in baking pans.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Preheat electric frying pan to 350 degrees F. Coat bottom of pan with about 1 tbsp. olive oil and add ground turkey. Break up meat with wooden spatula and stir frequently till cooked through and evenly browned, about 8 minutes.

Add onions to pan and add another ½ tbsp. oil. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are golden, about 5 minutes.

Add cooked rice, chopped tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, salt, and half of the can of tomato sauce (about ¾ cup). Stir till well combined. Bring mixture to simmer to blend flavors, then turn off heat.

Fill pepper halves with stuffing using a large rounded spoon. Top with remaining tomato sauce.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 15 - 20 minutes, until piping hot throughout. Allow to cool for 5 – 10 minutes before serving.

Stuffed Bell Pepper on individual's plate
Colorful and Delicious


  1. I like this very much, it sound really yummy to me. But I think I will still prefer beef with stronger flavor and probably top with some cheese. This recipe reminds me another dish that I have in a restaurant. It stuffs something really similar into squid. It is really good too. :)

    1. Hi Yung, thanks for reminding me of stuffed squid. A friend brought it to a dinner party, many years ago now and I had forgotten. I think he used beef, tomatoes, herbs, and spices. It was delicious!