Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Stuffed Bowen Bull Nose Capsicums {vegetarian}

Bull Nose Capsicums and Bull Nose Bell Peppers are one and the same thing. You probably know about the famous North Queensland Bowen mangoes which will be ready for harvest soon, but have you heard of the Bull Nose capsicums which Bowen is also famous for, as well as for the beautiful Bowen tomatoes. At this time of year Bowen is a profitable food bowl. I immediately thought of stuffing these capsicums when I first saw them, as they lend themselves to grilling, roasting and stuffing, or just chopped fresh for salads. Search your pantry stash of staple ingredients and it is amazing what you find. That is how this recipe came about.

Go straight to recipe here

My lovely foodie friend Julie, arrived on the weekend from Bowen with a farm fresh bag of Bull Nose capsicums, a large eggplant, and some Roma tomatoes, all from the farm shop just past Sandy Gully,  North of Bowen on the Bruce Highway. She is such a treasure. Living in Bowen has it's rewards for her and for me.

I had all of these ingredients on hand and so this recipe just evolved. White beans could be substituted for the Black beans, and the corn could be left out if necessary although it brings colour, natural sweetness and texture. I also enjoy the earthy flavours that the black beans bring to the taste buds, not to mention the fibre for the gut. I love the flavour of eggplant in this kind of vegetarian dish, and as I had a whole and very fresh globe eggplant, I sliced it, salted it, and baked it with a drizzle of olive oil and added some of it in small pieces to this mix. Mr. HRK isn't a huge fan of eggplant, and he's sticking to that story. So I have gone gently this time to test his reaction and he didn't even notice the filling contained some eggplant. Adding eggplant or not is up to you with this recipe, an optional extra. If we are thoughtful and curious with our cooking, the right flavours will evolve. Believe me my friends, this is a very tasty and pushy  recipe. If you like Mexican food, you will love these.

Bull Nose Capsicums, fresh, sweet and crispy
Now, for a little background story about these mysterious, and heritage Bull Nose Capsicums, as I know you must be fascinated by the name. They were named after their shape. They are smooth skinned and thin walled, and the skin tapers down to multiple lobes at the base, or a "bull nose". I hope you can see that in the photos below. Who ever named them had a great imagination, don't you think? Anyway, apparently they were one of the first crops grown by the American President, Thomas Jefferson at his Virginia home of Monticello as early as 1812 and seeds are still sown and sold there, or so I read. They would have been known as Bull Nose Bell Peppers and no doubt they were pickled by many of the settlers back then as well, however they looked different to the Bull Nose Peppers of today. According to the literature and photos available about them, back then they looked more like our common capsicum, only smaller.

Bell peppers called Bull Nose were definitely known to American gardeners in the 18th century. Paintings by artists such as Raphaelle Peale, in 1814, show that the pods back then were much smaller than they are today. Everything seems to have become bigger through time.

Mrs. Emlen's Pickled Mangoes is an inspiring historical read if you are interested in the history of food and language as I am. Apparently, many Americans still call Bell Peppers "mangoes", because to mango it meant to stuff and pickle it with a mixture of spices and shredded cabbage. I would be interested to hear from any American friends if this is still actually the case. Bell Peppers were also used in mango pickles, a recipe which traces back to their origin in India. However in India they are called capsicums.

Back then the Bull Nose Bell peppers may have been much hotter, according to recipes from the Virginia Housewife (1838:168) warning to be careful when removing the seeds and membranes. I wonder if she was really talking about the same Bell Peppers though as some articles say they were always sweet. This sounds like our chilli heat warnings today. It's fascinating to think that they are now grown so successfully here in North Queensland, where the hot dry conditions suit them, as the climate of India did.

I have some Bull Nose capsicums growing, my first crop, taken from seeds I dried and planted. We bought these capsicums from a roadside stall last year at Merinda, just North of Bowen, and to be truthful I didn't know what they were then but loved the flavour and the shape. The seeds have propagated very well into healthy plants, and whilst the fruit is still green and only half the size it might be, I am excited about being able to pick my own Bull Noses during this coming Summer. So many seedlings came up, exceeding my expectations, that I stuck a couple in my Kaffir Lime pot, and they are also doing very well. That's heritage quality for you I suppose.

Bull nose capsicums growing in our Kaffir Lime pot.

Bull nose capsicums growing in the garden with chillies
Let's Cook:
Serves 4

8 Bull Nose capsicums or normal red capsicums
Salt and pepper
1 400g can diced or crushed tomatoes
1 400g can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 400g can corn kernels, drained (fresh would be even better)
4 thick slices of cooked eggplant, chopped finely (optional)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups brown rice, cooked
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 spring onions, finely sliced for garnish


I removed the seeds and membranes from the Capsicums, and they are currently drying out on the sunny windowsill in my laundry. They will keep in my seed bank in a zip lock bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator, until I need to plant some for next summer.

The Filling:

In a large fry pan over a medium heat add a little olive oil, and add the the tomatoes, black beans, corn, eggplant, cumin, cayenne pepper and brown rice.

Season the mixture with salt and pepper, and cook for 10 minutes. Have a taste to make sure it has the level of flavour that you like. Keep stirring the mixture to ensure it doesn't stick to the base of the pan, as the moisture will steam off and the mixture will bind together. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Spoon the bean and rice stuffing into the Bull Nose capsicums to fill, add the tops as lids. These types of capsicums aren't as easy to fill as the normal ones and I just pushed the mixture down into the cavity with a teaspoon and could feel the heat from the mixture as it found the bottom of the cavity.

These babies are ready for the oven
Add capsicums to a greased baking tray or one lined with baking paper, cover the tray with alfoil and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.

Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and finely sliced spring onions to serve.  If you are using normal capsicum for this recipe, you might need to take a fine slice off the base so that they sit nice and flat on the plate.

Go straight to recipe here.

Thanks for dropping by,

Warm wishes,



  1. They look just gorgeous! Sounds tasty too.

  2. I make stuffed capsicums but with potato and fish. This sounds delicious and different to what I'm used to make. :)

    1. Ooh, is the potato and fish recipe on your blog? It sounds delicious as well. Thanks Nil.

  3. I love peppers, and it's so much fun to stuff them. Terrific looking recipe -- something we'd definitely enjoy to eat. And make! Thanks so much.

  4. Pauline, I haven't heard of those capsicums before. Your recipe looks fantastic and the colours are so vibrant. I made your couscous recipe up a few days ago and we finished it off tonight. I will make it again as it was very tasty.

    1. Thanks Chel.
      So pleased you enjoyed the couscous recipe.

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