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Peppers Stuffed with Apricots and Pine Nuts

Sweet peppers play an important part in Mediterranean cuisine - stuffed peppers are a particularly popular dish. In the Middle East they are usually served cold as a starter, but they are also delicious eaten hot as a main course. For variety, use a mixture of green, red and yellow peppers. Try to choose thick-fleshed peppers with brightly coloured skins.
Preparation time : 30 minutes,
Cooking time : 1 hour 20 minutes,
Oven : Preheat to 190°C (375°F, gas mark 5),
Calories per serving: 350

ingredients

serves 4
4 medium peppers
6 oz (175 g) short-grain rice
1 large onion
1 clove garlic
3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 tablespoon currants
3 oz (75 g) dried apricots
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped mint
2 medium tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
5 spring onions

method

1. Cut a small slice off the stem end of each pepper and put to one side. Remove the cores and seeds. Wash the rice and drain it thoroughly. Finely chop the onion and crush the garlic.

2. Bring a pan containing 3/4 pint (450ml) of water to the boil. Pour the oil into a separate, large saucepan and fry the onion over a medium heat for 5 minutes, until it turns golden. Add the pine nuts and fry for another 3 minutes, until all the pine nuts begin to colour, then stir in the rice. Add the currants, dried apricots and ground cinnamon, and season to taste.

3. Stir in the boiling water and add the sugar, parsley, mint, tomatoes, tomato puree, crushed garlic and spring onions. Then mix well and cover. Cook for 10 minutes, leaving the moist rice slightly underdone.

4. Remove from the heat and spoon the mixture into the peppers, then cover with the reserved tops. Place the peppers upright in an Ovenproof dish and pour 1/4 pint (150 ml) of water around them.

5. Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 40 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 20 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

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