3/4 cupcream cheese (about 6 ounces), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese (about 7 ounces)
3/4 cupgolden raisins, also known as sultanas
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1 medium lemon)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
Makes:6 servings as a meal, 12 servings as a side dish
These stuffed green bell peppers make an excellent vegetarian meal or a side dish that even carnivores will love. The sweetness of the bell peppers plays off the golden raisins, and the vegetal note is heightened by the herbs.
What to buy: Look for bell peppers that are about the same size; cooking time and portions will be more consistent that way.
Game plan: You can stuff the peppers up to 4 hours ahead. Take them out of the fridge 30 minutes before grilling to let them come to room temperature.
1Place the rice in a colander or a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear. Combine the rice, measured water, cinnamon stick, and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low; cook until the water has been completely absorbed, about 10 minutes (the rice will be slightly undercooked). Remove the lid from the pan, discard the cinnamon stick, and set the pan aside to let the rice cool. Meanwhile, prepare the peppers.
2Use a paring knife to cut a wide circle around each stem (like when carving a jack-o’-lantern), so you end up with a cap that can be replaced once you’ve stuffed the peppers; be careful not to puncture or rip the peppers. Remove and discard any seeds and membranes from the cap and from the interior; set the peppers aside.
3In a large mixing bowl, vigorously mix the cream cheese with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Stir in the feta, raisins, mint, dill, parsley, lemon juice, measured pepper, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Add the cooked rice and mix gently to combine. Taste and, if necessary, add more salt and pepper. (The filling should be quite salty to compensate for there being no salt on the peppers.)
4Divide the rice mixture into 6 equal portions. Stuff each pepper with the filling, replace the caps, and press each cap into the filling. Pierce 2 toothpicks through each cap and out the sides of the pepper to secure the caps while on the grill; set aside until ready to cook. (If you’re stuffing the peppers more than 30 minutes before grilling, cover and refrigerate them for up to 4 hours. Let the peppers sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes before grilling so that they cook faster and more evenly.)
5Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium (about 350°F to 450°F). Place the stuffed peppers on their sides and close the lid. Roll each pepper a quarter turn every 7 minutes or so to cook all four sides. The peppers are finished once the filling is hot, the skins are well-charred, and the flesh is soft to the touch, about 30 minutes. Remove the toothpicks. If serving as a side dish, slice the peppers in half vertically.