Let me introduce you to one of my many styles of making STUFFED PEPPERS. This version uses Italian Frying Peppers also known as CUBANELLES. They are a sweet variety that when cooked are even more flavorful I think than a cooked Bell Pepper. When possible these are the pepper I use for my Sausage and Peppers and Onions because of their intense taste. The stuffing is a mix of Sweet Italian Fennel Sausage, toasted and olive “oiled” breadcrumbs, Parsley, diced Cured Black olives, capers, garlic, and Provolone plus a bit of tomato paste to add some dramatic color. One point I try to make when people speak to me about their cooking is to be creative and open minded. There is no one “stuffed pepper” recipe. All these stuffed vegetable dishes most likely were created by a thrifty or impoverished home cook who needed to stretch what they had in front of them to feed a family. When cooking regionally you can come up with dishes that evoke an area by using ingredients that are common to that region’s cuisine. I’m dipping into my favorite region of Italy with these “PEPERONI IMBOTTITI” (stuffed peppers) and that region is Napoli, the city of Naples and its surrounding towns. Sweet Fennel Sausage, peppers, capers, breadcrumbs, tomato, cured black olives, Provola…even stuffed vegetables…they all are part of the Napoletana kitchen. My Mom made a few versions of Stuffed Peppers, some I still make, some I’ve created from my years of cooking, traveling and researching food. I’ve never met a stuffed pepper I didn’t like so let me introduce you to this one….PEPERONI IMBOTTITI CON SALSICCE, Peppers Stuffed with Sausage.
MAKES 8 TIME: 1 hour 15 minutes
10 CUBANELLE PEPPERS, TOPS OFF, GENTLY REMOVE RIBS AND SEED FROM INSIDE
4 SWEET ITALIAN SAUSAGE LINKS (WITH FENNEL) OUT OF THEIR CASINGS
2 SLICED CLOVES OF GARLIC
1 1/4 CUPS OF TOASTED ITALIAN BREADCRUMBS
1/2 CUP GRATED PROVOLONE
2 TBS CHOPPED ITALIAN PARSLEY
1/2 TSP OREGANO
2 TBS TOMATO PASTE
2 TBS WHITE WINE, plus 2 TBS FOR COOKING
5 BLACK OIL CURED OLIVES, PITTED AND FINELY CHOPPED
1 TSP CAPERS
1 TBS EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, plus 2 TBS for cooking
SALT, PEPERONCINO to taste
In a large skillet, heat 1 tbs of the Olive Oil till it’s medium hot, then add the loose sausage meat. With a wooden spoon break up the sausage as it’s cooking and move it around the pan from time to time. When the sausage is nicely browned, add the garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Now add 2 tbs of White Wine. Let this simmer for 5 minutes. In the meantime add 1 tbs of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil to the breadcrumbs and mix it well. then add the Provolone to this mix. Let the sausage cool down for 10 minutes, then in a large bowl mix all the ingredients except the peppers together. Taste for seasoning. Now gently stuff them into the peppers. Don’t overstuff, they tear easily. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Add some olive oil and wine to a baking dish. Lay the peppers into the dish/pan and cover with foil. Bake for 1/2 hour. Remove from oven and open the foil (away from your face!!) and gently turn the peppers over. Close the foil and bake for 15 minutes longer. Then remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes. Done. They should be tender and loaded with flavor. Garnish the peppers with chopped parsley. Serve with Italian bread to sop up those pan juices and enjoy the peppers. The peppers are amazing the next day. They also taste their best at room temperature. Perfect for an antipasto table.
A taste of my home cooking in your home kitchen. A little bit of Napoli as well. Happy Cooking!!