Deliciously wholesome, this stuffed capsicum with rice is a vegan Lebanese recipe. Baked tender capsicums filled with rice, lentils and vegetables in a herbed tomato sauce.
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😋Why you’ll love this recipe
- Absolutely delicious - big on flavour
- Very flavoursome - the flavours of the herbs combined with the tomato sauce, the filling and the bell peppers is divine.
- Diet friendly - vegan and gluten free
- Family friendly - very filling
- Easy ingredients
What is Stuffed Capsicum With Rice?
Individual capsicums (bell peppers) that have been stuffed with a rice filling, then baked until tender.
In Arabic, Lebanese dialect, we call this meal mahshi (mahshiyeh) Flayfleh, which translates to 'stuffed capsicum' or 'stuffed bell pepper' depending on your location.
The stuffing consists of either minced (ground) lamb or beef and rice, or vegetables and rice.
✔️What You’ll Need
Notes on some of the ingredients, the full list of ingredients and their measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
Capsicum (bell peppers) should be firm when touched. As these are being cut to form a base and lid, it’s best to buy taller ones.
You can opt for any coloured capsicums you like.
Rice select basmati, jasmine or long grain rice. These tend to cook the easiest.
Brown lentils either dry or canned can be used. If using dry lentils, be sure to cook them prior to using them in this vegan / vegetarian stuffed capsicum recipe.
The brown lentils will replace the minced/ground meat normally used in Lebanese capsicums.
Parsley and coriander (cilantro) should be fresh. Cut off the tough parts of the stalk and then finely chop the rest of the stalk along with the leaves.
In addition to the fresh coriander, you will need powdered coriander for the sauce.
Mint can be used fresh or dried. If using fresh, only use the leaves. If using dried, ensure it is ground mint.
Olive oil choose a good quality olive oil, which will help keep the stuffing from drying out.
Pine nuts should be used whole and not crushed. They add a unique nutty crunch.
Preparing capsicum for stuffing
Step 1 - Cut the bell pepper tops off, in line with where the middle of the core would be* (see note). Deseed and take out any membrane. The tops will be used as lids. Finely dice the membrane/core to combine this into the rice stuffing in step 4.
Step 2 - Over medium - high heat, dry toast pine nuts until golden brown. Set aside.
Step 3 - In a saucepan add oil, onion, carrot, garlic and sweat until the onion is translucent. Add lentils and stir through well. Add rice, sliced cilantro (coriander), mint, parsley and salt & pepper, combined well. Add water and cook until rice is parboiled, approx. 6 minutes. Do not open the lid for another 2 minutes.
Step 4 - Strain rice into a bowl and keep the leftover juice. Combine pine nuts and bell peppers membrane/core through the rice. Set both rice and juice aside.
Step 5 - Whisk together left over rice juice, tomato paste, olive oil, ground coriander, water (to make up the 2 cups), salt and pepper. Set aside.
Step 6 - Place the capsicum (peppers) snugly into a casserole dish. Fill them up with the filling leaving a 1cm gap from the rim to allow the rice to swell whilst baking.
Step 7 - Pour sauce into each bell pepper (capsicum) until it is just just under the top of the rice. Pour the rest into the casserole dish. Ensuring it is at least 1cm (⅓") deep. If required top-up with a mixture water and tomato paste. Place the lids onto each pepper.
Step 8 - Bake in a preheated oven 180C (360F) for 45-60 minutes, until rice and peppers are cooked. Once cooked allow vegan stuffed capsicum to sit for another 10-15minutes with the lid on before serving. Serve warm.
The above photo shows about 10-15 minutes of letting the fresh out of the oven-baked Lebanese vegetarian stuffed capsicum - condensation forms on the glass lid.
Tomatoes can also be stuffed.
Pine nuts can be swapped out for slivered almonds.
The original recipe that my mother would make contained either minced (ground) lamb or beef, rather than the lentils and carrot.
Cutting tops off capsicums is easily done by using a paring knife. Cut inline with where the core (seed pod) is, run the knife along the perimeter in a line and then push the paring knife into the core, gently tilt the knife until you here the capsicum pop and you have a separated the lid from the base.
Keep each lid with the body of the capsicum from which it was cut off from, as it is the perfect match.
Capsicum stuffing should be loosely placed into each bell pepper and not compacted. This will ensure the rice will cook through.
Casserole dish should be tall enough to encase the bell peppers once stuffed and closed with their lids.
The bell peppers should fit snugly into the dish, if there are gaps, I like to fill these with stuffed tomatoes as they are smaller and are a great complementary gap filler.
The casserole dish should either have a lid or have the ability to be covered whilst baking.
Filling the casserole dish with 1cm (⅓”) liquid will help build steam within the dish and not burn the bottom of each capsicum.
Baking times will varying depending on your oven and the size of the capsicums. Check in at the 45minute mark, if the capsicum is easily pierced and the rice is cooked, it is done. If not, allow it to bake further. This could take up 60 minutes or so in total.
Serve individually with some of the sauce from the bottom of the casserole dish.
Yes, vegan bell peppers can be frozen. Once cooked, allow them to fully cool down to room temperature before sealing them upright in snap lock bags. It is best to freeze each bell pepper individually for up to three months. Thaw and then reheat.
In an airtight container, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Ensure the capsicums are completely cooled to room temperature before transferring to the refrigerator.
No, peppers can be baked directly from their fresh form once washed and dried. Peppers will bake easily with no boiling.
Yes, the entire pepper, minus the stem, and the stuffing can be eaten. In fact, the pepper and the rice stuffing complement each other very well.
The leftover juice from a satisfying meal of vegan filfil mahshi is delicious and should be mopped up with some bread.
🥘Other Lebanese Mahshi Recipes
There are many stuffed vegetables within the Lebanese cuisine, such as malfouf - stuffed cabbage leaves.
A must-try stuffed Lebanese grape leaves, these are called warak enab
Or this delicious Lebanese stuffed eggplant.
Another Arabic rice dish is maklouba, a fancy presentation of upside down rice and vegetables.
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Middle Eastern Vegan Stuffed Capsicum With Rice
- 8 medium - large Capsicum (bell peppers)
- 1 cup Brown lentils drained (if using dry, make sure they are cooked)
- 1½ cups Basmati rice
- ½ small Onion finely diced
- ½ small Carrot finely diced
- 2 cloves Garlic crushed
- 2½ tablespoon Parsley finely sliced
- 1 tablespoon Mint fresh (finely sliced) or ground
- 2 tablespoon Cilantro (Coriander) finely sliced
- ½ cup Pine nuts dry roasted
- 1 med Tomato finely diced
- ½ tablespoon Salt or to taste
- 1 teaspoon Cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- 3 cups Water
Optional Sauce for Dish
- 1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
- 1 cup Water
Preparing capsicum for stuffing
- Cut the bell pepper tops off, in line with where the middle of the core would be* (see note). Deseed and take out any membrane. The tops will be used as lids. Finely dice the membrane/core to combine this into the rice stuffing in step 4.
- Over medium - high heat, dry toast pine nuts until golden brown. Set aside.
- In a saucepan add oil, onion, carrot, garlic and sweat until the onion is translucent. Add lentils and stir through well. Add rice, sliced cilantro (coriander), mint, parsley, tomato and salt & pepper, combined well. Add water and cook until rice is parboiled, approx. 6 minutes. Do not open the lid for another 2 minutes.
- Strain rice into a bowl and keep the leftover juice. Combine pine nuts and bell pepper membrane through the rice. Set both rice and juice aside.
- Whisk together tomato paste, olive oil, ground coriander, water (use leftover rice juice to make up the 2 cups, if more is needed use water), salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Place the capsicum snugly into a casserole dish. Fill them up with the filling leaving a 1cm (⅓") gap from the rim to allow the rice to swell whilst baking.
- Pour sauce into each bell pepper (capsicum) until it is just under the top of the rice. Pour the rest into the casserole dish. Ensuring it is at least 1cm (⅓") deep. If required top-up with a mixture of water and tomato paste. Place the lids onto each pepper.
- Cover the casserole dish and bake in a preheated oven 180C (360F) for 45-60 minutes, until rice and peppers are cooked. Stand for 10-15 minutes with the lid on before serving warm.
N.B., nutrition info is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. This will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.
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