When I was a kid, my Nonna used to stuff everything! It was always with her same breadcrumb “concoction”. It was her homemade breadcrumbs, garlic, grated Romano cheese, salt, pepper and parsley. So simple yet it was so flavorful when mixed with some Extra Virgin Olive Oil and stuffed into her peppers, artichokes or whatever else she found to stuff!
I don’t know what it is about them… but I could eat a bushel full of stuffed peppers!! When you bake them, the peppers get sweet, the crumbs inside are a contrasting texture and the flavors just explode together!
When I first got married and had my first vegetable garden I was a little over zealous with the peppers! They were these cute little ones but I had so many! I didn’t want to waste a single one so I picked them, cleaned them out and then froze the little “cups”. I was so proud of myself for growing my own peppers and then having them ready to stuff! It’s so exciting making things for the first time. Pasquale loved them.
What a good memory.
So all you have to do is either cut off the top of the pepper (if they are nice ones that stand up!) or cut them longways in half. Lately I’ve been doing them more longways… you get the same amount of pepper and same amount of stuffing in TWO pieces and you get extra crisp on the crumbs! And who doesn’t like more “crisp”?
Make breadcrumbs from “yesterdays” bread or leftover ends or even fresh bread if that’s all you have. YES fresh bread if fine. (DO NOT USE STOREBOUGHT CRUMBS IN A CAN!-they taste like SAND!) You can either use a food processor, a blender or if the bread is dry (like hard Italian bread) you can even use a cheese grater—which is how my Great Aunt ---My 94 year old Zia Angelina –makes them at the bakery in Italy. Keep your “fresh” breadcrumbs in the freezer and you will always have them when you need them!
For the Stuffed Peppers—
1. You need about one handful of breadcrumbs per pepper.
2. Add about ¼ - ½ handful of grated romano (recommended) or parmigiano or grano Padano cheese. (ONCE AGAIN- DO NOT USE GRATED CHEESE THAT IS ON A SHELF IN A CAN! -more sand and other crap!)
3. Add some chopped fresh garlic—either minced with a knife or thru a garlic press -this is to your taste. I use about 1 average sized clove per whole pepper.
4. Add fresh chopped parsley.
5. And….some salt and pepper to taste.
6. Mix all dry ingredients together.
7. Lastly moisten the breadcrumbs with Extra Virgin Olive Oil until they are all are just moist and would almost stick together if squeezed.
Fill each cleaned pepper with the breadcrumb mixture. Pack lightly. Only pack in more if you have leftover.
Place in a baking dish. Drizzle a little more olive oil over the top of each pepper.
Cover the dish with a lid or foil for the first 15 minutes then uncover to let brown.
Bake at 375° F or 190°C for about 30-40 min. or until you can stick a fork in the pepper and the top is crisped.
There’s more than one way to stuff a pepper…!!!
Stay tuned for more!