Russian Stuffed Peppers
Russian food is something of an anomaly in the Midwest. Even in my home town, Minneapolis, which has made it’s mark on the map as a city with some of the best dining experiences in the country, there are still only a handful of restaurants who specialize in Russian cuisine. Unless you are specifically looking for a Russian eatery, many times that genre of food gets lost in the masses, rarely gracing the plates of the average food adventurist, not to mention the sea of foodies who make it a lifestyle to eat out.
The scarcity of Russian food options is a bit of a head-scratcher for me since the handful of Russian recipes I have tried have quickly fallen into the category of favorite eats. This is one of the reasons I am so excited to include a chapter from Russia in my upcoming cookbook.
There are many wonderful things I could say about food from this culture and area of the world. However, the thing I appreciate most is the creative use of basic ingredients and the simple cooking techniques that go into making dishes that are as distinct as the Russian culture itself.
A few months ago, my beautiful friend Natasha and her adorable mother, Maya, taught me to make one of their traditional stuffed pepper dishes. I must confess, as a child, I had never been a fan of stuffed peppers, I’ll admit, I hesitated to be open minded when it came to trying then again as an adult Much to my surprise, the moment a fork full of this unassuming dish hit my lips, I was madly in love! Since then, I have made this recipe again and again, and my family loves it as much as I do. Now this is the type of winning dish that lands in my go-to file when I need a quick and easy dinner that everyone will want to eat. But the fun doesn’t stop there!
Sometimes the best creations happen by accident. In the process of testing the stuffed pepper recipe, I shredded way to many carrots. Since I am somewhat frugel with my ingredients and don’t like waste, I decided to get creative with what I had in my pantry, and that’s how this rice dish was born.
I call it Sweet Milaya Rice, which is Russian for Sweet Rice. The name seemed appropriate since the dish was conceived in the process of making the Russian stuffed peppers. It turns out that the combination of sweet raisins and carrots in this rice dish paired with the zesty tomato sauce in the stuffed pepper dish makes a perfect palatal marriage made in heaven. Huh! Take that match.com!
So the next time you want to experience a little bit of Russia in your home, give both of these recipes a try. Let me know how it turned out and what you think in the comment box below. Enjoy!
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