Italian stuffed peppers are famous around the world as a tasty shabby-chic budget dish that brighten up any mealtime and are enjoyed by young and old alike.
However, saying ‘Italian style Stuffed Peppers’ is like saying in the US that Thanksgiving Stuffing or Dressing is the same across each of the States; visit each region in Italy and wind across its provinces and you will notice a subtle difference between the herbs used in their delicious stuffings, as well as what they stuff.
Abruzzo is famed for the light delicate stuffings of its Adriatic coast and Appennine mountains.
Stuffings were originally produced with what was at hand and through economic necessity to ensure that everyone got a bite and no one went hungry; vegetables, seafood and meat were all used in the region and our recipe below can be adapted for stuffed zucchini, eggplant and mushrooms.
- 4 pulpy red and/or yellow sweet peppers
- 8 full tablespoons of toasted breadcrumbs
- 8 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 medium size onion chopped
- 2 fillets of anchovies preserved in oil, minced
- 4 plum tomatoes, without seeds and chopped
- 2 tablespoons of raisins
- 2 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon of chopped basil
- 3 oz. diced caciocavallo or provola cheese
- 3 oz. diced salami
- 4 sprigs of basil for garnish
Wash the peppers and dry with a clean kitchen rag; using a sharp knife, cut the top from the peppers.
Remove the cores, seeds and any white membranes and set on the side.
In a large skillet, at a high heat sauté the onion with 3 tablespoons of oil, stirring frequently until onion is light golden in color, about 5 minutes; add anchovies and tomatoes and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes.
Add and blend the breadcrumbs into the onion-tomato mixture and continue sautéing for a few minutes.
Place in a large bowl and when the breadcrumb mixture has cooled combine it with raisins, toasted pine nuts, chopped basil, cheese and salami.
Mix well, add black pepper to taste and check and add salt if it is needed.
If the stuffing is too dry add some olive oil.
Pour the remaining oil, ½ cup of water and a pinch of salt in a sauce pan large enough to hold the peppers standing up.
Stuff the pepper, each with ¼ of the filling, place in the sauce pan and cook covered at a medium heat and before they start to boil bring heat very low for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until peppers are cooked.
They must be carefully moved around a few times and when the water in the pot evaporates let the peppers cook in the oil and in their own released juice.
Serve hot or at room temperature, drizzle each pepper with the oil and juice gathered in the sauce pan and garnish with a sprig of basil.