My Macedonian relatives make a version of these with fresh sweet bell peppers from the garden. Get ready for delicious, tender-crisp shells with a creamy cheese and rice filling. As usual, I use goat’s cheese, but if you aren’t off regular dairy you can substitute Feta and Manouri cheeses. Use whatever color peppers you prefer, or a variety for more attractive presentation.
5 long frying peppers or bell peppers
1 cup brown rice
3 T extra virgin olive oil
3 T finely chopped onion
8-10 small mushrooms, stems removed, finely chopped
3 oz cheddar-style goat’s cheese (Alta Dena makes a nice one), finely grated
5 oz goat’s cheese (from a log)
1 lg egg
1 T fresh lemon juice
½ tsp oregano
Cook rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, make a slit halfway around each pepper about 1/2” below the stem. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the peppers until they are just tender, about five minutes. Drain and allow them to cool. Gently fold back the tops of the peppers and cut out the cores. Remove the seeds and drain all water out of them.
In a skillet, heat 2 T of the oil. Add the onion and mushrooms and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. Cool.
Preheat the broiler on low. In a medium bowl, grate the hard goat’s cheese and finely crumble the goat’s cheese. Blend gently with hands. Add the onion and mushroom mixture, egg, lemon juice and oregano and beat lightly with a fork until light and thoroughly mixed. Add the rice once it finishes cooking. This is your filling.
Gently fold back the top of each pepper and use a spoon to fill, pressing down mixture into the pepper as you go to fill the bottom. Line a baking pan with foil and lay the full peppers down (if not using long bell peppers, you may want to stand them upright). Brush with the rest of the oil and broil 6 minutes until the peppers are lightly charred. Turn them and broil another 4-5 minutes longer until the filling is hot. Serve.