Lebanese Vegan stuffed peppers (capsicums) are filled with rice, lentils and vegetables filling in a herb tomato sauce, baked in the oven into a lovely wholesome meal. These Lebanese stuffed capsicums are also gluten-free.
😋Why you’ll love this recipe
- Absolutely delicious - big on flavour
- Diet friendly - vegan and gluten free
- Filling and wholesome
- Easy ingredients and recipe
I can’t being to tell you how much I love this meal of Lebanese stuffed capsicum. As a kid, I knew when mum was making this dish, as the house would smell of baked capsicum and I couldn’t wait to tuck into this meal.
In Arabic, Lebanese dialect, we call this meal mahshi (mahshiyeh) Flayfleh, which translates to 'stuffed capsicum' or 'stuffed bell pepper' depending on your location. There are many stuffed vegetables within the Lebanese cuisine.
She would stuff these with either minced (ground) lamb or beef, rather than the lentils and carrot which is what I now use on a plant-based diet.
The flavours of the herbs combined with the tomato sauce, the filling and the bell peppers are divine.
I do prefer my vegan stuffed peppers to be a little more saucy/juicy, so sometimes I fill each pepper right up with sauce or extra sauce in the bottom of the dish, it’s just *kiss my fingers* good.
✔️What You’ll Need
A note about some of the ingredients for vegan stuffed peppers:
Bell peppers/capsicum should be firm when touched. As these are being cut to form a base and lid, it’s best to buy taller bell peppers.
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 stuffed capsicums recipe.
The brown lentils will replace the minced/ground meat normally used in Lebanese capsicums.
Parsley and cilantro/coriander should be in their fresh form. 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 ground coriander* for the sauce.
Mint can be used fresh or dried. If using fresh, do not use the stem, it’s too tough. 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.
Here’s how to make Lebanese vegan stuffed peppers
Preparing peppers (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.
Capsicum stuffing preparation
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 leftover rice juice, tomato paste, olive oil, ground coriander, water (to make up the 2 cups), salt and pepper. Set aside.
Step 6 - Place the peppers (capsicum) 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 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.
Step 8 - Bake in a preheated oven 180C (360F) for 45-60 minutes, until rice and peppers are cooked. Allow the vegan stuffed peppers to sit for 10-15 minutes with the lid on before serving warm.
The above photo shows about 10-15 minutes of letting the fresh out of the oven-baked Lebanese vegan stuffed capsicum - condensation forms on the glass lid.
Bell peppers/capsicum can be swapped out for tomatoes.
Pine nuts can be swapped out for slivered almonds.
Cutting tops off capsicums is easily done by using a paring knife. Cut in line 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 hear 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, as it is the perfect match.
Membrane from inside the bell peppers, including the core, once deseeded, can be finely chopped up and placed into the capsicum stuffing. It will build on the capsicum flavour.
Capsicum stuffing should be loosely placed into each bell pepper and not compacted. This will ensure the rice will cook through.
There should be a little gap between the filling and the rim of the capsicum to allow the filling to grow as the rice is only parboiled and will swell.
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, to avoid them toppling over. 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.
Placing sauce into the capsicums filled with stuffing will help to cook the par boiled rice.
The leftover rice juice is important to use as part of the sauce as it contains loads of flavour.
Filling the casserole dish with approx. 1cm (⅓”) liquid will help build steam within the dish and not burn the bottom of each capsicum.
Baking times will vary depending on your oven and the size of the capsicums. Check-in at the 45 minute 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 60 minutes or so.
Once cooked allow vegan stuffed bell peppers to sit for another 10-15 minutes with the lid on before serving.
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 vegan stuffed bell peppers 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
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Vegan Stuffed Peppers (Lebanese Stuffed Capsicum + Gluten Free)
- 8 medium - large Bell peppers (Capsicum)
- 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 peppers (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.n
- 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 peppers (capsicum) 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.
- 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.
- Bake in a preheated oven 180C (360F) for 45-60 minutes, until rice and peppers are cooked. Allow the vegan stuffed peppers to sit for 10-15 minutes with the lid on before serving warm.