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  • Writer's pictureMaya Levin

Stuffed Peppers/zucchini

Ingredients: ground meat of choice (1 lbs / 1/2 kg), 4 colorful bell peppers, 4 large carrots, 1 large (2-3 small) zucchini, 1 summer squash, 5 large mushrooms, 1 onion, 2-3 sticks of celery, 2-3 garlic cloves, 1 large bunch of parsley, 4 large tomatoes.

This is a huge favorite in our house, a spin off from a childhood dish our grandmothers used to make back in Russia.

When moving to Israel, turned out this is a popular dish there as well, though the Israeli version is most often served as a vegetarian side, typically filled with rice. My grandma used rice for filling as well, but it was a small amount mixed in the meat.

When our house turned Paleo late last fall, I was thinking of all the winter must have dishes in my arsenal and the this was obviously one of the first dishes I paleoized. It was super easy too - just switch the rice for veggies. BOOM!

My husband really loves the peppers, but I like the stuffed zucchini version better. My son wouldn't eat either. Unless I take the meat out of the pepper and rebrand it as a meatball.

I have learned to use more meat and just make meatballs of whatever is left after stuffing the veggies.

The sauce I made here is mostly tomatoes, but you can easily turn this dish AIP if you just use broth for liquid (and don't stuff peppers as they are a nightshade vegetable and should be avoided on AIP).

This is sadly one of the less quick recipes you will find here, but the upside is that you can make a big pot and have it for 2-3 days, or freeze some and always have a prepared meal available.

I like to start with sauteing the veggies for the stuffing first as they take time. Using a large grader shred the carrots and one summer squash (in this picture I grated zucchini as I didn't have squash). Finely chop one large onion, the mushrooms and the celery. saute with 2 tbs avocado oil.

Cut the Tops of the peppers using a paring knife. I try to stay as close to the stem as possible, that way you leave edges to contain the meat inside.

If you have large zucchini cut it to 3'' (6-7 cm) tall pieces or just half if you got small ones. Scoop out the inside with a melon baller, leaving some of the flesh on the bottom.

You can throw the zucchini flesh into the pot to be used a filler, or shred in a food processor and add to the liquid to make it thicker. I personally love the liquid as much as I love the stuffed zucchini itself and sometimes even have it as soup, so I often choose to thicken it.

Finely chop the parsley and add to the meat. Check on the veggies. I like them a little browned, so it takes about 15 minutes on low-medium heat for them to be ready for my taste. If they are ready move out of the pot and let cool for a few minutes.

Season the meat with your favorite spices. I use salt (pink Himalayan), fresh ground pepper, garlic powder, sweet paprika. Thyme, dill or cilantro spices can be a great addition here.

Once the veggies cooled a bit add and to the meat and mix well. Using your hands is the best way to do it, it will take way less time and will be mixed better. Also, it's the only way to properly stuff the peppers/zucchini so you'll have to get dirty anyway. I hate touching raw meat so I use a disposable glove.

Stuff the veggies you prepared. Air bubbles are easily created so push the meat in well so you don't end up with empty peppers.

Now to the last part - making the sauce to cook the deliciousness in. There are endless possibilities here, and no matter what you'll do it will turn out great. The juices from the all the veggies and the meat will make it yummy.

I like to add fresh tomatoes, but you can also use tomato juice or add tomato paste instead (for AIP version skip this step). If you are using fresh simply half them, and grate facing down and discarding the skin.

Add your liquid - you need enough to cover the peppers almost all the way - about 6 cups. You can add water, stock or broth - whatever you have available. If you left zucchini flesh to thicken the sauce add it now. Add crushed garlic, salt and pepper. If you want to add some spice use chili pepper spice.

I often add white pepper to soups and stews in the cold winter month as it really makes the dish feel hotter. It's not spicy like chili, but hot. I highly recommend giving it a try, especially if you live in a colder climate.

Put the peppers and/or zucchini in. If you made meatballs from leftover meat add them on top.

Bring to boil, lower to medium-low, cover and cook for about 30-40 minutes.

This time I served with a side of avocado for extra fat, as the meat was pretty lean.


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