Thursday’s Dish: Meatballs with Cabbage and Bell Pepper

Last week, I admitted to being a confirmed bell pepper-hater. However, I have come up with one way to cook them that I like. Note: It only calls for red bell peppers. Never green! Those are the worst offenders.

It’s a recipe I came up with when I discovered, after a party, that a friend had brought over several red bell peppers to put on a crudité platter and had only used one. He left the others with us, thinking that we would use them. I glared menacingly at them for a few days, but they didn’t leave on their own accord. And they were so pretty and so shiny. Also, they were expensive. That was the tipping point; I just couldn’t stand to let them go to waste.

I knew I’d have to cook them to death to eat them, which is not my usual protocol with vegetables, so I started thinking about what else I like to eat only when it’s been cooked for eons. Cabbage is one of these things. That thought, and the fact that I had ground meat in the house, made me look up recipes for cabbage rolls. One thing led to another, and in the end, I came up with something that was sort of like exploded cabbage rolls … with bell peppers. My husband was in paroxysms of joy over this recipe because he never, ever expected to come home to find cabbage AND bell peppers on the table at this house, both of which he likes quite a bit. Happily, I liked it as well, and I hope you do, too.

Meatballs with Cabbage and Red Bell Pepper

For the meatballs:

1/2 pound ground beef

1/2 pound ground turkey

3/4 cup bread crumbs

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots or onion

1 egg

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon salt

Olive oil


Mix all ingredients except olive oil and flour together thoroughly (I used my hands). Form into balls. Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Roll meatballs in flour, then set in skillet. Turn frequently to brown on all sides, but don’t worry about whether or not they’re thoroughly cooked because they’ll finish cooking in the vegetable mixture.

For the cabbage and red bell pepper:
Advertisement1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1/2 head green cabbage, thinly sliced

2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar


Red pepper flakes

1 cup chicken broth

1 large can (29 ounces) diced tomatoes

2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or 1 tablespoon dried)

Heat butter and olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and bell pepper and sauté until soft. Add cabbage and cover for 5 minutes, until wilted. Uncover, add red wine vinegar, then salt and red pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes and herbs. Check for seasonings and adjust as needed. Simmer 10 minutes, then add browned meatballs. Continue to simmer for up to 30 minutes before serving.

I had plenty of crusty bread on-hand for this dish. I served it in bowls, and we ate the meatballs with our forks and kind of sopped up the other stuff on the bread. I hope you try it. If you like bell peppers anyway, you’re sure to love this, and if you don’t, you just might be surprised.

Written by: Shannon Oelrich

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