Grilled Dolmas

Ingredients:

3 bell Peppers (I use red, yellow, and green)
2 large tomatoes (make sure to save the pulp to add to stuffing)
2 Japanese Eggplants (long and skinny)
1 cup basmati rice (washed 5 times)
1 cup yellow split peas (wash before use)
1 pound ground beef (9-15% fat)
Handful of each herb: (finely chopped) parsley, cilantro, tarragon, basil, & mint
1 large finely diced onion
3-4 finely chopped garlic cloves
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup tomato sauce ( you may use tomato paste but I like the flavor of sauce better)
Juice of 1 lemon (use the zest for extra flavor)
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of saffron (ground and mixed with 2 tbsp hot water)
2 tsp red pepper flakes (gives a nice kick)
Kosher salt
Ground pepper

Tomato Mixture:

1/2 cup tomato sauce
Juice of half a lemon
Salt & pepper
1/4 cup water
1 tsp tomato paste (Sadaf brand tomato paste has great flavor)

Step 1: Wash your bell peppers, tomato and eggplant. Slice tops of bell peppers and tomato to make a lid that you will use. Scoop out seeds and pulp. Make sure to set aside tomato pulp. Cut a lengthwise strip in your eggplant and boil for 2 minutes. Once cool, scoop out the contents of the eggplant, leaving a 3/4 inch thick shell. Season your vegetables with kosher salt & pepper and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (convection roast or bake)

Step 2: In a medium sized saucepan, bring 1 quart of water to boil. Add 2-3 tsp kosher salt to water. Add yellow split peas and boil for 13-15 minutes. Add rice to boiling water and boil the split peas and rice for 5 minutes. Then turn heat to low and simmer for another 13-15 minutes. You want the rice and yellow split peas to be soft but not mushy.

Step 3: While your mixture above is cooking, saute your onion until golden brown. Be patient with this step and don't rush it! The golden brown onions add a lot of flavor to this dish. Once onion is browned, add the ground beef and brown your meat. Don't rush this step either! Browned meat gives a lot of flavor as well. Add salt (about tsp), ground pepper, and half tbsp turmeric to meat and onion mixture. Once meat browned, add all your rice & yellow split peas, herbs, green onion, and garlic. Saute for another 3 or so minutes and add tomato sauce. Add red pepper flakes, rest of turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, saffron, and lemon juice. Cook for another few minutes and add salt if necessary. You want to make sure your mixture has a lot of flavor because some of the seasoning is lost during the steam process in the oven.

Step 4: Stuff your vegetables with rice mixture and put lids on peppers and tomato. Combine tomato mixture in a glass pyrex dish and place vegetables on top. Cover with foil and place in oven for about 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, remove from oven and secure the lids of tomato and bell peppers with toothpick and finish on hot grill! You want to make sure all sides of veggies have grill marks. Remove from grill and arrange on a platter with fresh herbs. Pour tomato sauce mixture over your dolmas and serve!
 

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