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SUNDAY COOKING WITH CHEF JON ASHTON: TURKISH STUFFED PEPPERS WITH MINT YOGURT

Jon Ashton's Turkish Stuffed Peppers

A flavorful dish with as much color and complexity as the country it celebrates

This week, East meets West, simple meets complex and sweet meets savory in one delicious dish. Chef Jon Ashton’s Turkish stuffed peppers aren’t complicated, but there’s nothing basic about the flavors. An homage to traditional Turkish dolma (meaning “stuffed”), which pack grains, ground meat, dried fruits, seeds, nuts and vegetables into an outer shell – a preparation technique common to the Anatolian region. The “shell” of choice this week is red bell pepper, and the dolma portion consists of onion, basmati rice, golden raisins, chopped dill, crumbled feta and ground lamb.

Chef’s tip: For a vegetarian version of this dish, replace the ground lamb with chopped mushrooms and the chicken stock with vegetable stock.

Complementing the savory baked dish is the sweet freshness of mint and honey, with a kick. Combine Greek yogurt, honey, dried mint, citrus and pepper flakes for a creamy cool heat (yes, that’s a thing) that enhances the stuffed peppers perfectly. Check the recipe below, gather your ingredients and join us for Sunday Cooking with Chef Jon Ashton this Sunday, November 15 on the Crystal Cruises Facebook page. We’ll see you in the kitchen.

Stuffed Peppers with Mint-Yogurt Sauce
By Chef Jon Ashton 

Ingredients: 

4 red bell peppers, de-seeded. Tops saved    
1 cup (190 grams) basmati rice    
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil  
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped      
8 oz. (225 grams) mushrooms, chopped or ground lamb
1/2 cup (75 grams) golden raisins       
3 tablespoons (9 grams) chopped dill 
3 tablespoons (22 grams) crumbled feta cheese 
Salt and black pepper 
1-1/2 cups (360 ml) vegetable or chicken stock 

To serve:

2 cups (480 ml) marinara sauce like (Rao’s) 

Mint-Yogurt Sauce 

1 cup (240 ml) Greek yogurt 
1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) Aleppo pepper flakes (optional)  
Finely grated zest of ½ lime, plus 1½ teaspoons (7 ml) lime juice 
1 teaspoon (5 ml) dried mint
1 tablespoon (15 ml) honey
Salt and pepper to taste 

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 390 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Remove tops of 6 peppers and remove pith and seeds (reserving the tops for later).

Place rice in a saucepan and cover with lightly salted water.  Boil for 5 minutes, drain, rinse, and set aside.

Add the olive oil and onions to a frying pan and cook over medium heat until onions are soft and slightly golden.  Add the mushrooms (or lamb) and fry for a couple of minutes.  Add the raisins, dill and reserved rice to frying pan.  Stir in feta cheese, season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Evenly divide rice stuffing inside the peppers and top peppers with their lids. Arrange the peppers in a high-sided oven dish, then pour stock over peppers and cover dish tightly with foil. Bake for 40 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until the peppers are cooked through and browned on top.  Spoon some of the stock on the bottom of the oven dish over the top of the peppers a few times while they are cooking.

Make the Yogurt Sauce by whisking all ingredients in a small bowl and setting aside. 

To serve, place about 1/4 cup of the marinara sauce on a plate, top with a cooked pepper and drizzle a little yogurt sauce around the edges. 

Serves 6.

Crystal’s Crystal@Home: A Virtual Cruise Experience program brings several elements of the renowned Crystal Experience directly to guests, wherever in the world they are. “Sunday Cooking with Chef Jon Ashton” represents the culinary excellence found aboard Crystal ships, as some of the greatest travel memories are created over the greatest meals.

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