Sunday dinner at the home of an Italian American family is all about keeping food traditions alive. My husband likes to call the meal “a Sunday feast”. We often start the meal with a large antipasto platter. This classic is always popular, as each person sitting at the table can choose exactly what they like from a platter arranged with cheese, sliced meats, fresh and roasted vegetables. One item I like to serve on the platter is Italian Stuffed Peppers, a favorite with both my friends and family.
The peppers, stuffed with a savory mixture of breadcrumbs, cheese, olives, capers and fresh herbs, are roasted in the oven and then served at room temperature. The stuffed peppers are great for entertaining as they can be prepared a day in advance…their flavors actually improving. Served cold or at room temperature the next day, the stuffed peppers are terrific as part of a large antipasto or as a side dish to your main meal.
Italian Stuffed Peppers
Serves 4, depending on the size of the peppers. Adjust the recipe accordingly.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- 4 Italian Frying Peppers*, tops and seeds removed
- 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
- 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced (I used two)
- 1/2 tsp. anchovy paste or to taste
- 3 Tbsp. chicken broth
- 3/4 c. toasted bread crumbs (I like to make my own but store bought is fine)
- handful of fresh herbs, chopped (I used oregano, basil and parsley from my garden)
- 3 Tbsp. grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 2 Tbsp. chopped black olives
- 1 Tbsp. capers, chopped
- 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- a splash of white wine
To prepare the breadcrumbs, heat three tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and anchovy paste. Sauté for about 30 seconds, then add the chicken broth, stir until the anchovy paste is dissolved then remove the pan from the heat to cool. Once the oil and garlic mixture has cooled, add the crumbs to the pan, along with the herbs, grated Pecorino Romano, olives, capers and red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients together until well combined and a handful can hold together. If too dry add a little extra vinegar. Taste and adjust the season, if necessary.
Stuff the breadcrumbs into the peppers but not too tightly. Lay the peppers on their side in a lightly oiled casserole dish just large enough for them to fit in a single layer. Drizzle the peppers with a little olive oil and add a splash of white wine. Cover the dish with foil and bake the peppers for about 25 to 30 minutes until the peppers are tender. Let cool and serve at room temperature or cover and refrigerate until ready to use the next day.
*I grow Italian peppers in my garden each year. I’ve grown both Corno Di Toro Rossa and Marconi but when the growing season is over, I make this dish with peppers that I buy from my local store. Peppers similar to what I grow may be called Italian Frying Peppers, Italianelles, or Cubanelles. They are long, pale green peppers that are sweet, tender and have a thin skin.
**You can double the breadcrumb recipe and store any leftover crumbs in an airtight container in the refrigerator as they are delicious used for stuffing other vegetables or as a nice topping for pasta.
Stuffed vegetables such as these Italian peppers have always been popular not only in Italy but also in other countries where people have relied on making breadcrumbs from stale bread. Using the breadcrumbs is an economical and savory way to stretch a few fresh vegetables, turning them into filling main course or a side dish to feed their family. Besides serving the stuffed peppers as an appetizer, they are a nice accompaniment to a simple meal of grilled or roasted meat, chicken or fish. Buon Appetito!