Slovak Stuffed Peppers (with cooking poems)

stuffed peppers blog

Instead of being baked, Slovak stuffed peppers are stewed in a rich tomato sauce for a juicy flavour-packed meal. 

To be honest, getting food on the table day after day can get to be a bit of a drag. And have you seen the amount of food kids can consume? I remember when my brother was a teen, I swear pans of cookies just got inhaled.

It’s certainly a luxury to be able to complain about the burden of cooking though. In the not so distant past, Slovaks had a handful of meals they cooked over again and were glad for it, as most of them knew the gnaw of hunger. And we know that in various parts of the world, people are starving.

But still…what am I going to cook for dinner tonight? I now marvel that my mother laid out a feast for us every evening, although as a child I didn’t think anything of it. I do remember, however, on one occasion my father went back to Japan for a visit and we ate a lot of eggs and toast (my father can’t eat many eggs).

A friend recently wrote a poem on Facebook to share her conundrum of shopping vs. putting crazy ingredients together, and it prompted a number of humorous responses with impressive poetry writing skills. 

The Tuesday That Already Feels like a Long Week: A Suburban Poem
by Meghan Barylak

I do not wish to shop
Though I am running out of things
To do with rice.
Jasmine rice, frozen peas, concord jelly–
Culinary rock bottom?

 Forgotten
by Erin Lenberg

Granola bar wrapper
One foot northwest of the trash can
Who left you there?
Who opened you up, crinkling and shining
Ate your granola and
Mini chips and
Left you
Forgotten
I thought I had enough granola bars stocked up
Enough for the week’s school snacks
Almost-empty boxes
Only rejected flavors remain
Lightning McQueen cookies ‘n’ cream
Forgotten
I need to go to Target

To my husband
by Kate Cousino
(Kate writes a thought provoking blog at Peace and Pekoe)

The casserole you prepared for yesterday
is still in the fridge
It was forgotten last night.

While I struggled to find
the right words
in the right order
your children ate peanut butter
rolled up in tortillas
or feasted on Sunday’s
leftover meat.

But at least there will be
casserole today.

If I can manage
to hold
more than one thing
in my head.

Follow your dreams
by Maic D’Agostino

To often I’ve convinced
Children that a meal
Can be anything the cupboard
Dreams of:
Saltines, nutella, cheerios.
Maybe that’s why
Their stomachs look confused
When I say they should
Always follow their dreams.

Eating on my own
by Naomi Huzovicova

Even though I write a blog
With beautiful food to tempt,
When I’m on my own
it’s sardines and rice –
rice from last week I think.

I like cooking. I like food. I like eating. But my to-do list is so long that if I’m eating by myself I just pull out the last dredges of leftovers. At most, I’ll fry an egg. For me, I enjoy cooking to bring people together over the table and nourish my family. I recently spent two days prepping and cooking a Canadian Thanksgiving meal to share with neighbours, and I enjoyed it. But if it’s just me…sardines are a great source of calcium, right?

If you need an idea for tonight’s dinner, try Slovak stuffed peppers. Instead of baking, the meat-and-rice stuffed peppers are stewed in tomato sauce, which results in a juicy and flavourful meal.

Because Slovaks grow banana peppers, this recipe calls for banana peppers but you can also use fewer bell peppers. Although you can even skip the peppers. My husband says that his mother always reserved some of the meat mixture to make balls, as some people (picky kids) will prefer them that way.

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Slovak Stuffed Peppers

Slovak stuffed peppers are filled with ground meat and rice, and then stewed in a smooth tomato sauce for a juicy and flavourful meal.

Ingredients

  • 200 grams (1 cup) short-grain rice
  • 500 grams (17.5 oz) ground pork (or any other meat)
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1 egg
  • 8 banana peppers (or other pepper)

Tomato sauce

  • 2 tablespoons lard or other oil
  • 4 tablespoons flour (or other thickener) For gluten-free or paleo alternatives, you can use instead 4 teaspoons cornstarch, arrowroot, or potato starch; 1 tbsp + 2 tsp tapioca flour; or 4 tbsp rice flour or general GF flour mix
  • 500 grams (2 cups) tomato puree
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vegeta (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cook short grain rice according to instructions. I rinse off the rice, add 1 1/4 cup water and bring it to a simmer in a pot over a medium flame with the lid off. I then give it a stir, put on the lid and put it over a very low flame for about 25 minutes. Or something like that, because I always forget the time.

  2. While the rice is cooling, chop the small onion into small pieces and mix with ground meat, salt, pepper, marjoram, and egg. Add in the mostly cooled (or leftover) rice and combine. This is easiest to do with your hands. 

  3. Stuff the meat mixture into peppers, pressing with your fingers, or form the mixture into large balls. 

  4. To prepare the tomato sauce, put the lard or other fat into a pot on low heat. When melted, sprinkle in the flour or flour alternative and stir. For flour, rice flour and GF blend, stir until the flour starts getting golden. Add the tomato puree, salt, and bay leaf. Vegeta is a general vegetable flavouring in common use here and is optional if you do not have it.

  5. Lay the stuffed peppers and meat balls into the tomato sauce. Add enough water so that the sauce covers the peppers and meat balls. Bring to a simmer for about 40 minutes, until the skin of the peppers is wrinkly. 

  6. Serve a stuffed pepper with tomato sauce poured over top. Some people add knedle, steamed bread, because it's great at sopping up the sauce. Add a side of boiled potatoes, bread, or pasta if you desire, but I prefer it plain.

 Slovak stuffed peppers are stewed in tomato sauce for a flavourful meal