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.
- The classic pasta alla puttanesca
- Pugliese green beans in tomato sauce
- Strawberry and limoncello tiramisù
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
4 tbsps olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
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.