DOLMA1lb. ground beef or lamb
1C uncooked brown or white rice
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1T olive oil
1/4C parsley, minced
4 bell peppers, any color
3 large, firm tomatoes
Optional: baby eggplant
Cook rice according to package directions and allow to cool. Saute onion and olive oil until translucent. Add in meat and garlic and continue to saute until the meat is brown and crumbly. Be sure to season with S&P each time you ad something to the pan. Set aside to cool while you prep your veggies.
Remove tops and de-seed peppers. Remove tops and carefully scoop out tomato pulp and seeds into a strainer over a bowl. Remove tops and bottoms of zucchini and very carefully scoop out the inside. I find a long somewhat sharp tea spoon works well for this. Same for eggplant, if using. Season insides of your veggies.
Combine your meat, rice, parsley and a squeeze of lemon, mix thoroughly. Taste now and re-season or add more lemon to your liking. Firmly pack each of your veggie shells with the meat/rice mixture and place them upright in a large enamel coated cast iron dutch oven. Start with the peppers and fill in with smaller veggies so that it's tightly packed. If you don't have enough room, it's ok if the zucchini hang out on top.
OPTIONAL STEP: Go back to your tomato juice - squeeze the pulp to get as much juice out as possible and add in the insides of the zucchini and eggplant. Add a little water and whiz it up in a blender or with an immersion blender. Alternatively, you can just chop the insides finely OR leave them out entirely. I usually either blend it up or just add the tomato juice and about 1/2 cup of water. It just needs some liquid in the pan so the veggies steam.
Pop a heavy lid on your pot, bring to boil and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes until the veggies are soft but not falling apart (see that pic above? I went off and did something else and my tomatoes fell apart.) Serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread.
Note: If you have leftovers this makes a fantastic soup. Just sort of mush up the veggies and add some beef or chicken broth and reheat. Yummy with crusty bread.