Stuffed Baked Peppers Pugliese-Style (Peperoni Ripieni Alla Pugliese)
Served with a salad, this makes a wonderful vegetarian main course or antipasto dish. The countryside of Puglia is incredibly fertile, producing abundant grain, tomatoes, grapes, artichokes, lettuces, fennel, bell peppers and onions, as well as fine olive oil.
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- 4 large yellow bell peppers
- 1 3⁄4 pounds potatoes
- 7 fluid ounces scant 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing
- 8 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 large fresh flat leaf parsley sprigs, roughly chopped
- 3⁄4 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese
- 3 eggs
- 3⁄4 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
- 1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- sea salt and ground black pepper
- Using a sharp knife, slice the top off each bell pepper to form a lid. Set the lids aside. Keeping the peppers intact, carefully remove the core and seeds from each. Rinse out the cavities, then stand the peppers upside down on kitchen paper to drain.
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into large cubes. Bring a pan of lightly salted water to the boil, add the potato cubes and parboil them for 5 minutes. Drain.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Oil a deep baking dish that is large enough to hold the 4 peppers comfortably.
- Put the potatoes into the dish and level the surface. Dot with the cherry tomatoes, then sprinkle over the onion slices, and half the garlic and parsley.
- Top with half the pecorino and season with salt and pepper. Moisten with a little water and drizzle with about half the oil.
- Put the eggs in a bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, then add the remaining pecorino cheese, as well as the remaining parsley and garlic. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well, then stir in half the remaining olive oil.
- Using a spoon, fill the hollow peppers three quarters full with the egg and breadcrumb mixture, then replace the lids.
- Stand the stuffed peppers upright on the bed of vegetables in the baking dish. Use the potato cubes as wedges, if necessary, to prevent the peppers from falling over.
- Season with salt and pepper, drizzle over the remaining olive oil and bake the peppers for 1 hour, stirring the vegetable mixture gently from time to time. Cover the baking dish loosely with foil if the top seems to be browning too much during cooking. Take care not to overbalance the peppers. This dish can be served hot or cold.
Cook’s tip: If the vegetables seem to dry out too much during cooking, pour a little water into the base of the baking dish to keep them moist.
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