Fall is officially here. And I for one, am ecstatic. It’s by far my favorite time of year, and one that holds special memories for me because it is, after all, the peak of harvest – beans, tomatoes, escarole, radicchio, corn, more beans, and of course, peppers. Baked stuffed peppers were a staple growing up, especially around this time, and the aroma takes me back to the start of school, the colorful change of leaves, and the approach of Halloween. It’s traditionally Fall. Here’s a quick, easy, and delicious way to serve up peppers, whether grown right in your back yard or found on sale at your local market.
Fried or baked, this savory stuffing complements any fresh pepper, from Bell to Hungarian Hot. For the below, I used mini-sweets. You’ll need to adjust cooking time slightly for larger peppers. I like to use any extra stuffing for baked tomatoes.
15 mini sweet peppers (or your favorite fresh peppers)
1 lb. ground meat (I prefer a ½ lb. ground pork ½ lb. ground veal combination)
1 tbsp. finely minced onion
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp. grated Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese
1 cup fresh Italian bread cubes (cut into small squares)
¼ of a chili, minced super-fine (optional)
1 plum tomato chopped into small pieces
1 clove of garlic, minced super-fine
Wash and cut the tops off of the peppers, also removing the inside of the pepper, including the seeds. Rinse and set aside. In a medium bowl, add the onion, parsley, grated cheese, optional chili, tomato and garlic to the beat. Mix by hand and slowly add the cubes to well incorporate them into the mix. Using your fingers, stuff each pepper, pushing down the mix to the tip and filling to the top, with just a little rounding off the top. Okay, at this point, there are several things you can do with your peppers. First of all, and my personal favorite, fry the peppers in a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, about 4 – 5 minutes on each side, until the skin bubbles and slightly blackens. Another option, also delicious and perfect for cold nights, cover the bottom of a baking dish with Sughetto di Pomodoro or your favorite tomato sauce. Line the peppers and fill the dish. Cover them with a few spoonfuls of sauce, grated Parmiggiano cheese, and shredded mozzarella. Bake at 350 F for about 30 – 35 minutes or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned. You can also freeze any of the stuffed peppers and then drop them into sauce or bake in the oven, allowing them to fully cook for at least 30 – 40 minutes. And finally, if you have any stuffing remaining, as well as guests who perhaps don’t like peppers, grab a few plum tomatoes. Remove the tops, scoop out the inside, and fill with the bread meat stuffing. Bake separately or with the peppers at the same time and temperature.