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Adjust Servings:
For the Peppers
8 large red bell pepper stem and seeds removed
1 large ripe heirloom tomatoes blanch, remove skin and roughly chop.
1 large yellow onion diced
3 Tbsp olive oil
100 g proscuitto chopped; can sub bacon
1 1/2 lb ground turkey can sub beef or lamb
3 cloves garlic minced
1 cup dry barley cooked according to package; can sub rice
1 tbsp smoked paprika
large handful fresh basil chopped
to taste salt and pepper
3 medium Potatoes chopped; optional
For the Paprika Sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp flour
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 cups water
1 large ripe heirloom tomatoes blanched, peeled and finely chopped
to taste salt and pepper

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Macedonia: Polneti Piperki

Stuffed Red Peppers



  • For the Peppers

  • For the Paprika Sauce



“Polneti Piperki” – or stuffed peppers – are very popular in Macedonia.  There are many versions of this recipe, passed down from Baba or from friend to friend.  We absolutely adored this dish, and both healthy and delicious it’s one found on this journey that I will most definitely make again!

A couple notes:

  • In Europe, peppers are often known as capsicums; I’ve used “peppers” in the recipe to avoid confusion.
  • I made a couple of substitutions based on what I had on hand: turkey for beef, barley for rice, and proscuitto for speck.
  • I also didn’t follow the original cooking instructions, which called to mix in uncooked rice because I wasn’t confident the barley would cook properly.  As you’ll see, I ask that you mix in cooked barley.  As a result, I also reduced the amount of water so that the paprika sauce is thicker.  This did make it a bit trickier to get the potatoes cooked, but I don’t actually think potatoes were necessary here – I just happened to have some.
  • The original recipe called to close the peppers with tomato chunks.  Several of the tomatoes Courtney brought home were pretty low quality, so I just skipped this step and closed with the original lid; I liked the result.
  • I think you could use canned diced tomato in the pepper filling, and a thick tomato sauce or puree in the paprika sauce, but blanching tomatoes isn’t hard.

Recipe Source: Village Feast



Heat a large frying pan over low-medium heat. Add oil then onions and a sprinkling of salt. Saute until softened, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute.


Turn heat up slightly to medium and add the chopped proscuitto. Cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes.


Add ground turkey (or whichever ground meat you're using) and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring continuously to brown on all sides.


Stir in the cooked barley (or rice). Add paprika and mix through; once fragrant (1-2 minutes) add chopped blanched* tomato and stir. Remove from heat and stir in the basil, salt and pepper.

*This means that you have boiled the tomato just long enough to remove the skin.


Preheat oven to 450 F. Cut off the top of the pepper, close to the stem but leaving the stem in tact. Remove the core and all seeds. Fill each pepper with the meat mixture, gently pushing to the sides so that the filling is evenly distributed; repeat this process until each pepper is full. Return the top to each pepper.


Place peppers upright in a large casserole dish. Evenly arrange the potato chunks (if using) around the peppers.


For the Paprika Sauce

To make the sauce heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add flour and stir frequently with a wooden spoon, being careful not to burn the flour (3-5 minutes). Have the hot water and a whisk close by. When the flour starts to smell like it’s cooking add paprika and stir continuously until fragrant (1 minute). Add 1/2 cup of hot water and whisk vigorously; once incorporated, add the next 1/2 cup and continue this process until you have a nice smooth sauce. Add tomato, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil and remove from heat.


Pour the sauce over each pepper, being sure that some of the liquid gets into the filling. Pour remaining liquid in casserole dish to submerge the potatoes. Cover loosely with tin foil. Place in the oven and cook on a high heat for 45 minutes, peaking a couple times to ensure they don't burn (you can turn the casserole dish, as needed, if your oven does not cook evenly).

11) After 20 minutes take out of the oven, turn each capsicum and the potatoes over and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes. If you find the capsicums are burning too quickly cover loosely with foil for the final 10-20 minutes. Additionally, if the sauce has dried up add a little more of the liquid (if yo


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