Recipe of the Week: Italian Stuffed Peppers
Our local markets are full of ripe summer fruits and vegetables. Take advantage of the season’s best by creating these delicious stuffed peppers. I make them all summer long, and I even freeze them to enjoy during the winter months. Buy mild or hot peppers depending on your taste and clean them well, making sure you eliminate all of the bitter seeds and white flesh. This dish is guaranteed to delight your guests. Serves eight. (Chef tip: When making rice, follow the package directions or heat two cups of water for one cup of rice. Add one teaspoon each of salt and olive oil in the cooking water.)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons whole milk
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1/2 cup dried Italian bread crumbs
1 pound ground sausage, without casing
2 cups rice, boiled
8 banana or cubanelle peppers, core and seeded
2 cups tomato sauce (salsa al pomodoro)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly drizzle olive oil into a small skillet and cook onion and garlic until soft, add sausage and cook until brown.
Drizzle with olive oil a 13-by-9-by 2-inch baking dish. Mix the onion and sausage mixture with rice, parsley, eggs, milk, salt, and red pepper in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the cheese and bread crumbs.
Cut off the tops of the peppers. Using a spoon, carefully scrape out the seeds and inner flesh, leaving the shells intact. Be careful not to pierce through the skin. Fill the peppers with the sausage mixture, dividing equally and mounding slightly. Arrange the stuffed peppers in the baking dish. Pour the tomato sauce over the stuffed peppers.
Bake uncovered until the peppers are tender and beginning to brown, about 45 minutes. Transfer the stuffed peppers to a platter and serve.
Salsa al Pomodoro:
(makes 3-4 cups)
2 pounds ripe Italian plum tomatoes
1 finely minced small onion
1 grated carrot
1 stalk celery, minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 cups tomato sauce
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a two-quart pot, blanch tomatoes in boiling water for a few minutes. Drain, then peel. Discard the seed, chop and set aside.
In a four-quart non-reactive saucepan, saute onion, carrot, celery and garlic in the olive oil until onion is transparent, about five minutes.
Add prepared tomatoes and hot pepper. Cook at medium heat for 20 minutes, or until reduced. Add basil.
Season with salt and pepper, and cook for 10 minutes.