Indulge in the rich and savory flavors of the Adriatic with our Punjene Paprike, a beloved Croatian delicacy. These stuffed peppers are not just a dish; they represent a journey to the Croatian coastline, where the breeze carries the scent of the sea and the fields offer the freshest produce.
The secret to their irresistible taste lies in the golden drizzle of Croatian olive oil, which imparts a subtle fruitiness that complements the robust filling of spiced meat and rice. This recipe is a testament to the simplicity and elegance of Mediterranean cuisine, where quality ingredients speak for themselves.
Cooking Tips for Authentic Punjene Paprike
Pepper preparation: Choose firm, bright-colored peppers for a sweet flavor and a beautiful presentation.
Rice texture: Partially cook the rice to ensure it's perfectly fluffy after baking.
Meat choice: Mix ground beef and pork for a traditional taste or adapt with your preferred protein.
Olive oil selection: The dish's soul is a high-quality Croatian olive oil, like the Istrian variety, known for its peppery notes.
Sauce savvy: A rich tomato base made with a touch of olive oil enhances the peppers and creates a delightful sauce perfect for dipping bread.
These stuffed peppers are a meal in themselves, but they pair wonderfully with a light salad dressed in—you guessed it—Croatian olive oil. Enjoy a glass of Croatian red wine, such as Plavac Mali, to bring out the best in these Mediterranean flavors.
Why Stuffed Peppers with Croatian Olive Oil?
Choosing to cook with Croatian olive oil is not only a culinary delight but also a nod to tradition and health. With its high content of antioxidants and healthy fats, it's a choice that benefits both taste and wellbeing. This dish is adaptable for vegetarians, simply substitute the meat with a mix of grains and vegetables, and still retain the essence of Croatian cuisine.
Whether you're looking to bring a taste of Croatia to your kitchen or to experience the comfort of Mediterranean cooking, our Punjene Paprike with Croatian Olive Oil is a dish that warms the heart and delights the palate.
Stuffed Peppers (Punjene Paprike)
Selo Olive Oil
- 4 large bell peppers, any color
- 1 cup rice, uncooked
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 pound ground beef or alternative ground protein
- 1/2 pound ground pork (optional, can be substituted with more beef or alternative protein)
- 1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup water or vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup grated cheese (optional, for topping)
- Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
- Prepare the Peppers: Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Wash the bell peppers, cut off the tops, and remove the seeds and membranes. Set aside the cleaned peppers.
- Cook the Rice: In a medium saucepan, cook the rice according to package instructions until it’s just underdone since it will continue to cook in the oven. Drain any excess water and set aside.
- Sauté the Filling: In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent. Stir in the garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the ground beef and pork, breaking it apart with a spoon, and cook until browned.
- Combine Ingredients: To the skillet with the browned meat, add the cooked rice, drained diced tomatoes, smoked paprika, oregano, salt, pepper, and half of the chopped parsley. Cook for a few more minutes, allowing the flavors to blend.
- Stuff the Peppers: Fill each pepper with the meat and rice mixture. Arrange the stuffed peppers upright in a baking dish.
- Prepare the Sauce: In a bowl, mix the tomato paste with water or vegetable broth. Pour this mixture around the peppers in the baking dish. Drizzle the peppers with additional olive oil.
- Bake: Cover the baking dish with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes. After 35 minutes, remove the foil, add grated cheese on top of each pepper if desired, and bake for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Serve: Carefully remove the stuffed peppers from the oven. Let them rest for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with the remaining chopped parsley and fresh basil leaves.
Stuffed peppers are a versatile dish that can be adjusted to include various ingredients such as different types of grains, proteins, and vegetables. They are a colorful and nutritious addition to any meal and can be served with a side salad or bread to soak up the delicious juices. Leftovers can be easily refrigerated and reheated for a quick meal. Enjoy your homemade Stuffed Peppers with Olive Oil!