Deconstructed Stuffed Bell Peppers

Ever crave the amazing aroma and taste of dolma but don't want to spend hours in the kitchen?? This skillet meal is the perfect solution for those crazy week-nights when you want the Armenian flavors of dolma and sarma without the fuss.  And with a few tweaks on the traditional ingredients, it's incredibly healthy too!

Deconstructed stuffed bell peppers

If you prep your brown rice in advance, the hands-on time is just about 20 minutes. You'll be so happy to enjoy authentic tasting Armenian food in about the time it could take you to heat up a pizza.

Ingredients for deconstructed stuffed bell peppers

What ingredients do I need to make Deconstructed Stuffed Bell Peppers?

  • Bell peppers: For this recipe, I like to use one green and one red, orange or yellow bell pepper.  Doing so will add some color and interest to the meal.
  • Onion: A large yellow onion will do nicely.
  • Tomatoes: I used a combination of tomato paste, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce.  I also added about 3 oz of water to help reconstitute the paste and provide a little steam for simmering. A couple teaspoons of sugar is also added to counter some of the acidity.
  • Seasonings: Salt, black pepper and allspice keep it simple and authentic tasting. Two cloves of minced garlic add a richer flavor to the turkey.
  • Lemon juice: About one large fresh lemon will provide all the lemon juice you need.  Stir and taste as you add the lemon juice so you can determine your preferred tartness.
  • Ground turkey (used 85% lean): Sometimes you may have to strain a little fat if you want your meal to be extra lean.  I do not find it necessary.  In fact, if your meat is too lean, you may want to add a little extra olive oil when browning the meat.
  • Short grain brown rice: It's best to start this as the very beginning of your recipe prep or make ahead of time. I like to freeze brown rice for meals ahead of time.
  • A half a jar or so of grape leaves: You don't need to spend time wrapping anything. I like to scoop the skillet meal into a grape leaf and eat it like a lettuce wrap.

How do I make Deconstructed Stuffed Bell Peppers?

If you don't have pre-cooked brown rice, start making your rice while the rest of your meal is prepped and cooking.  (I like to make ahead and freeze packets of it brown rice since the cooking time is more than double the time for white rice.)

Finely dice all the bell pepper and onion and mince the garlic. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a sauté pan and then add the pepper and onion.  Sauté until the pepper and onion are softened.  Scoop onion mixture out of pan and set aside.

Diced peppers for dolma skillet meal

Next brown the ground turkey. Drain any excess fat, if necessary. Then add then add the garlic and simmer a minute or two more. Add the onion and bell pepper mixture back to the pan.

Brown the ground turkey

Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, tomato paste, lemon juice, salt, pepper and allspice to the pan.  Stir together and simmer for a few minutes. Then stir in the fully-cooked brown rice (when it's done). You can keep your skillet meal on a low temperature if waiting for the rice to finish.  The extra simmering time will be great.

Serve as a stand-alone skillet meal or scoop a little into a grape leaf and eat like a lettuce wrap.


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  • Jackie Jenkins on

    Great idea! Looks delicious!!

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