Roasted stuffed peppers with spicy mince, raisins, and halloumi

These peppers are roasted and stuffed with a delicious rice and mince filling. The harissa paste and spices give it a warm middle Eastern flavour profile and you can make it as hot as you like. The halloumi adds cheesiness, and you can replace with grated mozzarella if you can’t find it. The raisins add the much need sweet element and this is a meal in one but could also be served as part of a mezze table.

Ingredients:

5 red bell peppers, cut in half and seeds removed
3 Tbsp olive oil
500grams beef or lamb mince
1 large onion, diced
4 – 6 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp Aleppo pepper or additional smoked paprika (optional)
2 – 3 Tbs Harissa paste (depending how spicy)
Pinch of chilli optional
1 x 410gm tin tomatoes
½ cup raisins
10 gms dill, chopped (stalks and leaves)
10 gms mint leaves, chopped
Aprox ¾ cup water divided
250gms halloumi grated
1 cup cooked brown and wild rice or just brown rice

Instructions:

Pre heat the oven to 200C/400F and cut the peppers in half lengthways and remove the pith and seeds but keeping the stem intact. Place in a large baking tray cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes.

While the peppers are roasting heat a large non-stick skillet and add about 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Fry the meat until brown on all sides. It is important to get the caramelization on the meat as this is where the flavour lies. Once browned, add the chopped onion, and bay leaf and cook until softened (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for a minute or so more. If necessary, and if your mince is lean, add a dash more olive oil.

Add the cumin, smoked paprika, cinnamon, Aleppo pepper (if using) and harissa paste and cook for a minute.

Add the tin of chopped peeled tomatoes plus about ¼ of a cup of water to rinse out the tin into the mince. Add the raisins and sauté for about 5 minutes and until it starts thickening around the edges. If necessary, add more water (about ½ cup will be good).

When the sauce is cooked but still quite saucy, fold through the chopped herbs and grated halloumi. Adjust seasoning then fold through the cup of cooked rice.

Remove the peppers from the oven after 25 minutes and turn the oven down to 180C/350F.

Fille each of the peppers with the mince filling really pushing it into the cavities and mounding slightly. Bake for 25 minutes until starting to brown on the top.

Serve with additional fresh mint and dill leaves.