An Appetizer So Good It Should Be Dinner

An Appetizer So Good It Should Be Dinner


When you’re invited to a friend’s house for dinner, it’s impolite to gobble so many of the hors d’oeuvres that you have no room for the rest of the meal.

But the stuffed, roasted mini sweet peppers that my friend Meline Toumani made were so ridiculously tasty that I just didn’t have the will to resist.

Photo

Small peppers are roasted until they collapse in on themselves.

Credit
Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

So I didn’t, and emptied the plate at the expense of the grilled lamb main course.

The peppers were caramelized and fleshy, and slicked with good olive oil. Inside, they were crammed with cumin-spiced, tomato-spiked bulgur studded with flakes of good tuna and herbs. Perfectly balanced between sweet from the peppers and savory from the tuna, they were all anyone could ever want from a stuffed vegetable.

Not only didn’t Meline mind my excessive enthusiasm for her peppers, she even offered me the recipe. My only tweak was to add a spoonful of capers to add tangy bursts to the mild bulgur grains.

This wasn’t traditional. But neither was Meline’s recipe, which is her riff on a Turkish dish of dried pepper or baby eggplant dolmas, in which the dried vegetables are rehydrated in boiling water, then stuffed with a mix of highly seasoned rice or bulgur and sometimes meat.

Photo

Onion, celery, garlic and fresh chiles flavor a grain stuffing.

Credit
Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

For Meline’s recipe, the fresh peppers are roasted until they collapse in on themselves in an autumnal-hued heap. This dish is prettiest if you can get mini sweet peppers in a variety of colors — yellow, orange and red, which is how they are generally sold in bags at the supermarket. If you’re shopping at a farmers’ market, you might find some green and purple ones, too.



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