Serbian Inspired Stuffed Peppers

Stuffing your peppers full of savory seasoned meat and rice is what we Serbians do best! They are easy to make, delicious and impressive enough to serve up for any occasion. They can also inspire great family dinner memories, like it has for me! This stuffed pepper recipe is an oldie, popular in Serbian cuisine, and one that I’ve always loved. They remind me of dinner nights at home as my mum would prepare them quiet often. I also loved them as left overs because they always tasted even better the next day! My recipe for these Serbian Inspired Stuffed Peppers is traditional to the way we make it in Serbia, which is usually in a pot, cooked until tender in aromatic chopped tomatoes and seasonings. This makes the peppers soft, juicy & delicious! Nothing fancy or complicated here, just fresh, flavorful, comfort food cooked until perfectly tender and tasty.

INGREDIENTS FOR SERBIAN INSPIRED STUFFED PEPPERS

  • Long grain white rice – Great for bulking up meals like this, as well as pilafs & salads.
  • Yellow Bell Peppers – Compliments the mince best! Also rich in Vitamin C.
  • Pork Mince – You can use any mince meat you prefer! I simply love pork mince best.
  • Yellow Onion & Fresh Garlic – these create a delicious base of flavor, only use fresh.
  • Canned Diced Tomatoes – You can use plain canned tomatoes or ones that have been seasoned.
  • Olive oil – Only a little is needed for sauteing. Another neutral oil will can work as well.
  • Vegeta – In Serbian cuisine, we use Vegeta all the time! A little goes a long way, and you can use it on any kind of food, from meat, barbecue to veggies and of course soups and stews.
  • Ground Paprika – Paprika is great because it suits many meal types!
  • Marjoram – I have been using marjoram in my cooking a lot lately and I love it! It is a great aromatic herb!
  • Salt and Pepper – Add salt & pepper as per taste, this will depend on how salty you like your food.
  • Oregano – Oregano’s taste makes a great addition to lots of dishes, especially those with meats.

WHAT PEPPERS ARE BEST

Choosing the colour of peppers for your Stuffed Peppers recipe will depend on your personal taste preference. Green peppers are a bit more zesty and definitely less sweet than red, yellow or orange. Yellow peppers work really well in this recipe because they don’t give you a zesty or tangy taste alongside the rice and pork mince. I have made stuffed peppers with the green type of pepper before and I found it too overpowering for my taste. However you can use a mix of colours as well if you wish to have a variety and to create the rainbow! Or, use any peppers that you favor the most!

Interesting Fact – In Serbia we have a type of white bell peppers which are commonly used for this recipe! They are called the ‘Amanda‘ pepper and are used in all types of cooking from roasting, cooking or fermenting.

HOW TO MAKE STUFFED PEPPERS

Stuffed Peppers may look fancy or complicated to make but they are really not! Simply follow the steps below and you are sure to get delicious stuffed peppers every time.

  • Prepare the peppers first by washing them thoroughly. Use a small knife to cut a wide circle around each bell pepper stem to remove the tops. Wash the peppers from the inside as well. Set aside.
  • For the filling, sauté the onions and garlic. Brown the mince with the onions and seasonings. Add rice and half a can of chopped tomatoes. Cook until the meat has completely browned.
  • Fill peppers with the meat and rice filling.
  • Arrange the peppers in a large pot. If your peppers won’t stand up in the dish, just cut a little bit off the bottom. Try not to cut into the pepper though. You don’t want to lose your filling. I used four large peppers in this recipe. If your peppers are smaller you can probably fill 5-6 easily.
  • Close the peppers in with the tops that were previously cut off.
  • Fill the pot with the remainder of the canned chopped tomatoes and water. Close the lid and cook for 45 min to 1 hr, until the peppers have completely softened.

Stuffed Peppers should be cooked with a lid on top so that the peppers do not dry out. Keeping the steam inside the pot is what prevents the peppers from drying out.

You can freeze Stuffed Peppers and they are a great make-ahead meal! You can freeze them individually or together in a baking dish. To re-heat, simply thaw in the fridge overnight and cook on the stove top with some olive oil.

Stuffed Peppers / Punjene Paprike

SERBIAN INSPIRED STUFFED PEPPERS RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 400 g pork mince
  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 4 large yellow bell peppers (use more peppers if you need to, depending on their size)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (halved)
  • 2 tsp Vegeta
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 2 tsp ground paprika
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 cups of water + 1 extra tsp ground paprika

Instructions:

  • Prepare the peppers – Wash the bell peppers thoroughly. Use a small knife to cut a wide circle around each bell pepper stem to remove the tops. Chop the tops and set aside (you’ll use them as the top of the stuffed peppers). Set them aside.
  • Cook the filling – Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic & cook for another minute.
  • Add in the pork mince, vegeta, oregano, marjoram, ground paprika, salt and pepper. Cook on medium-high heat, breaking the meat up with a spatula as it cooks, until cooked through.
  • Add in the cup of rice and combine well with the pork mince.
  • Stir in half the can of the chopped tomatoes only and stir well. Cook for a further 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat, taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
  • Stuff the peppers – Using a spoon, stuff each pepper generously with the pork mince and rice mixture.
  • In a deep cooking pot, arrange the peppers and close them off with their previously cut off tops.
  • Carefully pour 4 cups of water between the peppers and add in the other half of the canned chopped tomatoes. Add in more water if needed. You want the peppers to be almost fully covered in water. Add in the extra tsp of ground peppers as well.
  • Cover with a lid and cook until tender – Cook until the peppers are softened but not mushy and the filling is heated through. The cooking should be between 45 minutes to an hour. You can cook them for 50 minutes and then let simmer on low heat for a further 10 minutes.

Recipe Notes – If you have any left over rice and mince filling, simply place it around the arranged stuffed peppers in the pot. Also, when cooking, it helps to cook these stuffed peppers in a pot that retains heat well. Brown rice will work great here too but keep in mind it will take more than twice as long to cook.

Storage – Leftovers can be stored in the closed pot in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can also freeze any left overs.

Stuffed Peppers / Punjene Paprike

The smell of grilled, cooked, fried or baked bell peppers is one of scents of childhood for most of Serbian people (including me) who grew up in Serbia.

I hope this recipe has sent some cooking inspiration your way 😊! Keep this Serbian Inspired Stuffed Peppers recipe close at hand for a quick, easy and fun way to serve dinner! Comment your thoughts below or tag me over on Instagram @thehomeharvest with any recipes you try ❤️