Case in point: I tried sweet potatoes *every* year at Thanksgiving until I liked them. Now I love them!
I don’t remember exactly when I started actually liking (then loving) peppers, but I’m so happy my tastebuds finally caught up to the desire for the flavor.
Indeed, peppers continue to be one of my very favorite foods in the world, especially when included in my mom’s stuffed peppers, today’s What’s Cooking Wednesday recipe.
Note: this is *very* different from how P’s mom makes peperoni ripieni, which are quite similar to her Calabrian stuffed eggplant–meatless and fried.
To give you an idea of how local Italian cooking is:
P’s mom’s recipe is from Badolato; my mom’s recipe is essentially my great-grandmother’s, who came from Isca, the very next town over. I have also eaten stuffed peppers at another Iscatani household, and they tasted really similar to my mom’s–only they had a little surprise chunk of suppressata in the center. Try it!
So when you hear that Italian cooking is regional, think even smaller…it can differ *greatly* by town, just like the dialects!
The recipe below calls for sauce over the peppers as they bake; you can, of course, use your favorite jarred sauce or make your own by frying a clove of garlic (minced) and one small onion (chopped finely) in about two tablespoons of olive oil, adding a can of tomatoes/sauce, and adjusting for salt. It only needs to simmer for about 15 minutes as it’ll also cook in the oven.
If you’re planning on serving pasta with the peppers, use two cans/jars of tomatoes/sauce.
- 6 small peppers (see photos for size I used)
- 1 cup cooked rice (1/3 uncooked)
- 1 pound ground meat
- Fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- Fresh basil, chopped (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Cook rice and preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
2. Wash peppers, cut off tops, and remove stem and seeds. If you’re using larger peppers, you can cut them in half and make double the amount of stuffed peppers by using both halves (just be sure to make more stuffing).
*Note: The parts of the pepper I didn’t use but that were still edible, I sliced up and used for potatoes, peppers, and eggs the next day.
3. Bring pot of water to a boil and drop peppers in, parboiling them for a few minutes. Remove from water, pat dry, and set aside to cool.
4. While peppers are parboiling, prepare stuffing by mixing together rice, meat, and parsley (cheese and/or basil) in a medium bowl.
5. Put some tomato sauce in a small baking dish so the bottom is lightly covered.
6. Sprinkle each pepper shell with salt and then stuff them with mixture and set in baking dish.
7. Cover peppers with rest of sauce and cover dish with foil.
8. Bake in oven for about 45 minutes to an hour or until the meat inside is cooked.
9. If you’ve made enough sauce you can serve pasta with the sauce and then the pepper as a second dish or simply serve the peppers by themselves with crusty Italian bread.