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How to make peperoni imbottiti, Italian stuffed peppers

Stuffed peppers make a delicious meal served hot or cold. Neapolitan food writer Silvana Lanzetta shares her family's recipe.

How to make peperoni imbottiti, Italian stuffed peppers
Stuffed peppers are delicious hot or cold. Photo: DepositPhotos

Bell peppers stuffed with minced meat – peperoni imbottiti in Italian – are a timeless classic of Italian cuisine.

My mum used to make them every weekend, especially in summer, where she served them cold with a fresh green salad as a side. We used to eat them for dinner, on our terrace, because it was way too hot to eat in a kitchen where the oven had been on for more than 30 minutes.

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I remember eating stuffed peppers as I watched the lights burning Naples alive, and then suddenly stopping, defeated by the purple sea. 

And as I was musing over the beauty of my city, inevitably our nosy neighbour would appear on her terrace, and start her relentless gossiping about everybody. I called her “the evening news”. The mood was ruined.

Oh well… poetry has never been my strong point, after all! But stuffed peppers are a poetry of sort: they are so good that soon will become one of your favourite dinner. Bonus points if you have a terrace and view of the sea!

Ingredients (4 servings)

4 red peppers
400g minced meat
3 eggs
100g Parmesan
100-200g breadcrumbs
200g mozzarella
4 tbsps olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1. Preheat the oven at 180°C/gas mark 4. Cut away the top part of your peppers, where the stem is, and clean them thoroughly, removing the seeds and the white filaments from the inside. Let them dry upside down on a clean cotton towel.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the stuffing. Tip the minced meat in a large bowl, and add the eggs, the Parmesan, and salt and pepper. Mix well. Start stirring the breadcrumbs in little by little, until the mix comes away from the bowl. Be careful not to make it too hard: you want a soft mix that keeps its shape in a ball, very much like a meatball mix.

3. Oil an oven dish and place the peppers on it, cut part up. Fill the peppers half way with the minced meat mix. Cut the mozzarella into four equal parts, then place a piece inside each pepper, over the meat. Cover with the rest of the meat, pressing down with the back of the spoon. Place the peppers' “hat” on the dish, next to the peppers.

4. Put in the oven and cook for 30-45 minutes, depending from the size of the pepper. Your stuffed peppers are ready when the peppers begin to soften and their skin start to wrinkle.

5. Serve your peppers hot or cold, dressed with their hats. Store in the fridge for 24 hours maximum.


Silvana Lanzetta. Photo: Private

Silvana Lanzetta was born into a family of pasta makers from Naples and spent 17 years as a part-time apprentice in her grandmother’s pasta factory. She specializes in making pasta entirely by hand and runs regular classes and workshops in London.

Find out more at her website, Pastartist.com, including this recipe and others.

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FEATURE

Italian recipe of the week: The perfect spaghetti carbonara

It has just three ingredients, but a lot of bite: artisan pasta maker Silvana Lanzetta shares her recipe for the perfect carbonara sauce.

Italian recipe of the week: The perfect spaghetti carbonara
An authentic carbonara sauce has only three ingredients. Photo: Flickr/Wine Dharma

Pasta alla carbonara (literally translated as 'coal workers’ pasta') is one of the most well-known and loved Italian delicacies: the creaminess of the eggs contrasting with the crispy guanciale makes it a pleasure to eat.

The origins of carbonara sauce are still uncertain. However, the recipe doesn’t appear until 1944, which prompts some speculations on how this delicious recipe came to be.

READ ALSO: The original recipe for authentic bolognese sauce

The most widely recognized theory is that this beloved Italian dish is an American adaptation of the traditional cacio e ova: when the Allied troops were stationed in Italy toward the end of World War Two, they got fond of pasta cacio e pepe, but to give them a “back home” flavour, they added smoked bacon to the recipe.

Roman people enthusiastically adopted the new dish, and quickly added it to their cooking.

They swapped the bacon for guanciale (the fat from a pig’s cheek) as they already had pasta recipes using guanciale and Pecorino cheese, the other two being pasta alla gricia and bucatini all’amatriciana.

Tips

Don't use Parmesan cheese for this recipe. However, if you're having difficulties finding guanciale, pancetta can be used instead.

Never add cream to the recipe: the creaminess is given by the sheer amount of grated Pecorino – so don't skimp on it! 

READ ALSO: Silvana's ten golden rules for cooking pasta like the Italians

Ingredients

  • 360 g spaghetti
  • 120 g guanciale
  • 4 eggs yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 150 g Pecorino Romano cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Step 1:
In a non-stick pan, fry the guanciale in its own fat until slightly crispy, taking care not to brown it too much.

Step 2:
In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and the whole egg with salt and pepper. Stir in the grated cheese until a thick cream is obtained. Add the cooked guanciale and reserve.

Step 3:
Cook the spaghetti al dente. Reserve about 100 ml of the cooking water. Drain the pasta well, and immediately pour the pasta into the bowl with the eggs. The heat of the pasta will cook the egg.

Step 4:
Add a little bit of the reserved cooking water, and mix well so as to coat all the pasta. If the sauce is still too dense, add some more cooking water. If too runny, stir in more cheese.

Step 5:
If necessary, season with more salt and pepper. Serve immediately sprinkled with extra grated Pecorino cheese.


Silvana Lanzetta. Photo: Private

Silvana Lanzetta was born into a family of pasta makers from Naples and spent 17 years as a part-time apprentice in her grandmother’s pasta factory. She specializes in making pasta entirely by hand and runs regular classes and workshops in London.

Find out more at her website, Pastartist.com, including this recipe and others.

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