Beef and Pepper Kofta Bake

the pepper is king in this recipe. You may be wondering how many kofta recipes Mama and I have up our sleeve. and the answer is a lot. and if you want the full Palestinian culinary experience you have to also learn to eat it at least once a week. which- believe me- isn’t a trial. in Palestine we turn everything into kofta: lamb, beef, chicken, and even fish! As well as the meat variation, there are variations to what vegetables are used and what it is cooked in- dry, tahini, sauce. This kofta is a beef and vegetable mixture baked with lots of vegetables in a sweet tomato sauce.

for me this is a cold weather dish- autumn and winter or maybe even a blustery spring. its wonderful with red wine, my nutty, herby, caramelised rice and one of our fresh and zinky yoghurt sauces. we have used peppers, tomatoes and courgettes as the base for this dish, but you can get rid of any vegetables you may have in the fridge including aubergines, onions or even potato. there are three stages; preparing the kofta, preparing the sauce and preparing the vegetables. but the whole process isn’t longer than an hour. so get the music on and pour yourself some wine!

ingredients

for the kofta

750g minced beef

1 orange or yellow pepper

1/2 green pepper

1 onion

2 garlic cloves

1 red chili

1 tbsp mixed spice

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp nutmeg

salt and pepper

fresh chopped coriander to garnish

for the sauce

1 onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 can of chopped tomatoes

1 can of water

2 tbsp tomato puree

2 tsp sugar

1 red pepper

pinch of salt

1 tbsp dried mint, finely crushed

for the base

2 red peppers

2 courgettes

2 tomatoes

method

heat the oven to 190c

slice the courgette into 1 cm pieces, slice the peppers into thick 2cm batons and coat in olive oil and salt. lay out on a baking tray. then take the red pepper for the sauce and slice around the stalk, pulling it and its seeds out and place it whole onto the tray too. put the tray in the oven for 20 minutes until coloured but still holding most of their shape. put the whole pepper to one side and arrange the roasted pepper and courgettes along with the sliced tomatoes on the bottom of a deep oven-proof dish. i like to serve this dish family style right onto the table so everyone can take what they want, so I use a pretty ceramic dish.

now make the sauce by cooking the onion and garlic in olive oil in a saucepan on a low/ medium heat until translusent. Then add the rest of the ingredients and the chopped roasted pepper form the oven. cook on low for about 20-30 minutes until its a thick and lumpy sauce. leave it to cool slightly and then using a handheld soup blender or a food processor blitz it until is is a completely smooth, rich and thick paste/ sauce. leave to one side until needed.

now make the kofta by putting all the ingredients into a food processor and blitzing until fully and finely combined and a nice dough like consistency is formed with the meat around the blade. if you dont have a food processor, you can do this by hand, but do make sure the vegetables are very fine and make sure you knead the meat very well removing any excess liquid with a kitchen towel.

shape your kofta mixture into 12 large burger sized patties and arrange over the roasted vegetables. then dollop a good amount of sauce over each kofta until its all coated. you can do everything up to here in advance and then cover and keep in the fridge util just before you want to eat.

bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes and then sprinkle with the coriander. serve piping how with rice and yoghurt.

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