Stuffed Peppers with Goat Cheese

One of my favorite things to do is visit the kitchens of Jewish friends so I can learn their favorite recipes firsthand. Observing the unique cooking traditions of different families allows me a greater insight into the heart of Jewish cuisine. On my recent trip to Israel, I was invited to have dinner with our friend Gila Ronel.

Me and Gila in her garden with her dog Bonnie – Jaffa, Israel

Gila lives in the old port city of Jaffa on the outskirts of Tel Aviv. Professionally Gila keeps herself quite busy—she’s a doula (midwife) for expectant mothers, and she helps manage a center for family health in Israel. She’s also a vegetarian with a wealth of nutritional knowledge, particularly when it comes to holistic healing foods. When I arrived, I was ushered into her cozy kitchen. She proceeded to teach me several of her favorite original dishes—all vegetarian, healthy, and very tasty. On Gila’s menu:

Sprouted Chickpea Stew with Vegetables and Brown Rice
Eggplant Dip with Sun Dried Tomatoes
Vegetarian Chopped Liver

Lentil Salad
Stuffed Peppers with Goat Cheese
Mango Herb Puree
Blended Watermelon Beverage

A surprising amount of Jews today stick to a vegetarian, or nearly vegetarian, diet.  For some, the decision is based on morality or health consciousness. Others find it makes keeping kosher easier. The laws of kashrut limit the ways you can prepare and serve kosher meat; becoming a vegetarian eliminates those concerns. There are also spiritual reasons for Jewish vegetarianism.  Some major Judaic religious texts have references to limiting meat consumption. Citing Deuteronomy 12:20, the Talmud states:

The Torah teaches a lesson in moral conduct, that man shall not eat meat unless he has a special craving for it… and shall eat it only occasionally and sparingly.

Historically, legumes, grains and vegetables have been the staples of the Jewish diet.  In Biblical times meat was considered a luxury for most people. It was too pricey to enjoy at every meal—as such, it was only served on special occasions and holidays.

In Gila’s kitchen, you don’t miss the meat. She approaches vegetarian cuisine with imagination and joy, creating dishes that are unique, nutritious and tasty. She takes a natural, holistic approach to cooking. Many of her ingredients are taken straight from the trees and plants growing just outside her kitchen. As we cooked, she periodically walked me into her garden to collect herbs that she used to season our meal.

 Gila's herb garden

One of the dishes Gila taught me to make is her Stuffed Peppers with Goat Cheese. It’s a tasty side dish that can be served as part of a dairy meal. The recipe appears at the end of this blog.

You might be unfamiliar with one of the ingredients in this dish—it’s called hyssop. Hyssop is a popular herb in Israel; it’s been used there since Biblical times. In fact, hyssop is mentioned several times within the Torah. In Leviticus, the priests of the Temple of Solomon use the herb for purification rituals. The popular Middle Eastern spice known as za’atar is primarily made of hyssop.

There are about 10 different kinds of hyssop. Middle Eastern hyssop herb has smaller, daintier leaves than certain varieties more commonly seen in the U.S. Here is what fresh hyssop looks like:

Unfortunately, hyssop is difficult to find here in the U.S., particularly the fresh kind. You can sometimes find it in Middle Eastern shops or farmer’s markets, but I’ve never seen it in my regular grocery store. It is pretty easy to grow in warmer climates, so if you have a garden you might want to consider adding this zesty, earthy herb to your collection. I highly recommend it, the flavor is wonderful– similar to a wild oregano, but more intense with a hint of mint.

If you can’t find fresh or dry hyssop, you can add and additional 1 tsp sage and 1 tsp minced fresh mint to the mixture. Feel free to adjust the herbs according to taste or what you have in your garden or spice cabinet. I’ve provided dry herb amounts here, but I do recommend you use fresh herbs if possible—they really enhance the natural flavors in this dish.

Note: Since first posting this dish, I have tried it with feta cheese instead of goat cheese– and I loved it! Both cheeses are yummy, but the saltiness of the feta really compliments this dish. Feel free to use either type of cheese.

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Gila's Stuffed Peppers with Goat Cheese


  • 5 large red bell peppers
  • 10 tbsp (about 8 oz.) soft goat cheese (or substitute feta)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 2 tsp fresh minced hyssop (or ¾ tsp dry hyssop- see substitution note)
  • 2 tsp fresh minced sage (or ¾ tsp dry sage)
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh minced oregano (or ½ tsp dry oregano)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh minced thyme leaves (or a pinch of dry thyme)
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • Salt
Servings: 5 side portions
Kosher Key: Dairy
  • Roast your bell peppers, then steam, seed, and peel them. For instructions, click here: How To Roast Bell Peppers
  • Take a roasted bell pepper and place it on a cutting board. Slice the pepper vertically from top to bottom and spread it open. Cut the pepper flesh in half, slicing it from top to bottom so you have two equal-sized pieces of roasted pepper.
  • Repeat this process for the remaining bell peppers. You will end up with 10 pieces of roasted pepper.
  • Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Grease a small baking dish with extra virgin olive oil, then sprinkle the oiled surface with salt.
  • Place one of the roasted half-peppers on a cutting board with the inner side facing up (the side that used to have skin on it should face downward). Form 1 tbsp of the cheese into an oblong oval shape. Press the cheese into the center of the pepper.
  • Wrap the ends of the pepper up around the cheese and pull the sides across till it makes a little package. Turn the stuffed pepper over and place it into the bottom of your baking dish, seam side down. Repeat the process until all the pepper halves are stuffed with cheese.
  • Sprinkle the tops of the stuffed peppers with allspice. Mix the fresh or dried herbs together in a small bowl till well combined. Sprinkle the herbs evenly over the top of the peppers.
  • In a skillet, toast 1 tbsp sesame seeds over medium heat till lightly browned.
  • Sprinkle the toasted seeds on top of the herbs. Alternatively, you can use pre-roasted sesame seeds or gomasio. Drizzle the tops of the peppers lightly with olive oil and sprinkle the entire surface with salt to taste.
  • Place the dish in the oven and bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve hot.
  • Substitution Note: If you can’t find fresh or dry hyssop, you can add and additional 1 tsp sage and 1 tsp minced fresh mint to the mixture. Feel free to adjust the herbs according to taste or what you have in your garden or spice cabinet. I’ve provided dry herb amounts here, but I do recommend you use fresh herbs if possible—they really enhance the natural flavors in this dish.

Comments (18)Post a Comment

  1. my sister’s a veggie, she’s going to <3 this! I tried ur shakshooka (sp?) last week, dipped pita bread in the xtra sauce. mmmmmm

  2. These look delish! I might use feta instead of goat cheese, love the saltiness of feta. I’ll try them this weekend

  3. Where’s the BEEF? Just kiddin. Looks good. Bet they’d be even better wrapped in foil and tossed on the BBQ. Like the article too. Keep up the good wrok Shiksa lady.

  4. Darling we’ve missed you! Happy you’re back, can’t wait to hear more about your traveling advenctures.

  5. I can’t wait to try this! Two of my fave foods are roasted red peppers and goat cheese. I am not much of a meat eater, actually I could do without meat all together, but my sister and our children like meat at most every meal. Thanks Shiksa!

  6. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Shiksa, I made this recipe and posted a pic on your FB page…. it is simply amazing! Gila’s stuffed peppers will forever be a part of my family’s recipe collection now!

  7. This is the first time I am viewing your recipes. I like the idea of using a red pepper. My husband and I cook green bell peppers on the grill so we will have a nice smokey flavor, we peel and de-seed the pepper, insert feta cheese, and continue cooking in a fry pan with olive oil to warm up the feta. The stuffed bell pepper is fabulous. I can hardly wait to check out more of your recipes. Do you have a traditional baked chicken recipe?

  8. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Tori, the red pepper with cheese is on the menu for later this week – it sounds just wonderful. Any chance that you will be sharing the recipe for the Eggplant Dip with Sun Dried Tomatoes at a VERY early date?

    1. Hey Louise– unfortunately I can’t get it posted right away, I’ve already finished my blogs for the next two weeks because I’ll be speaking at BlogHer Food this weekend. Had to plan ahead. I will try to post it before the end of summer though! Enjoy the peppers. :)

  9. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Tori, since I have zataar on hand and it’s mostly hyssop, could I substitute it? Perhaps also keeping the mint, since I generally have it too? I just got some really wonderful feta at our local Middle Eastern shop here in the west of Ireland, and this would be a terrific place to use it! Thanks!

    1. Hi Nancy, absolutely! The seasonings are very flexible in this dish. I think za’atar would be delicious. The feta version is terrific, I tried it and I think I like it even better than the goat cheese. Enjoy!

  10. Just made this last night, LOVED it! Used a selection of different colored peppers and served each pepper on a small mound of lemon parsley couscous. Awesome dinner, thanks!

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