Stuffed Peppers

8 side-dish servings or 4 main-course servings
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups lightly packed fresh bread crumbs (see TIP, at right)
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup coarsely chopped giardiniera (Italian-style pickled vegetables in a jar)
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3/4 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 large red bell peppers, or a mix of red and yellow bell peppers
1 1/2 cups diced canned tomatoes (not drained)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Use 2 tablespoons of the oil to grease the bottom of a baking dish large enough to hold 8 bell pepper halves.
2. Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs, garlic and minced parsley and cook, stirring frequently, for 8 minutes or until the bread is pale golden and starting to crisp. Transfer the bread crumbs to a large bowl. Add the giardiniera, capers, cheeses, salt, and pepper to taste, mixing gently but thoroughly. Set aside.
3. Cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise, including the stems. With a paring knife, remove and discard the seeds and white ribs. Spoon the filling into the hollowed-out pepper halves. Reserve any leftover stuffing for sprinkling over the peppers before baking.
4. Spread about 3/4 of the tomatoes in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange the peppers on top of the tomatoes. Spoon the remaining tomatoes over the tops of the peppers. Sprinkle with any remaining bread crumbs and drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over the peppers. Bake the peppers for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the tops are nicely browned and the peppers themselves are just tender. Turn off the oven and let the peppers rest inside it for 15 to 30 minutes, until they are completely tender. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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