Easy Vegetarian Stuffed Bell Peppers Recipe
Right now tomatoes and bell peppers are up there with the best of the crops, and this really easy stuffed bell peppers recipe uses them in a delightful combination you can serve as a light meal, a starter or as a vegetable accompaniment to meat and poultry.
This doesn’t work at all with green peppers, of course you can try it but I don’t think you’ll make it again, nor want to post it on your blog!
Using yellow or orange peppers is possible if you really can’t get red, but the end result when I’ve tried it has been too sweet and lost the special earthy depth of flavor achieved with ripe red ones.
Also called Piedmont Peppers, the recipe originally came from a lovely and timeless cookery book Italian Food by Elizabeth David, following which the same dish has been adopted by several notable restaurants and has also appeared in Delia’s Summer Collection (great cook book from British home-style cook Delia Smith).
* The original recipe calls for anchovies and I for one totally hate them, so I leave them out.
* The original recipe does not call for olives – we love them and think they add to the dish, but again add or remove as you wish.
You can vary the amounts of black pepper, garlic, olives and cheese to taste but you’ll always get better results with really ripe sweet peppers and tomatoes – the richness of flavor is a world different with ripe fresh produce.
Easy Recipe Stuffed Bell Peppers
– You will need…
- 4 Large Red Peppers – green will not do it!
- 4 ripe medium size tomatoes, or enough cherry toms to fill the peppers
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 – 2 sliced olives per half bell pepper
- 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly milled black pepper to taste
- Garnish – a few basil leaves if you have them
- Cut the peppers in half and take out the seeds – leave the stalk to strengthen the pepper
- Put them in a lightly oiled shallow baking tray – if the tray has deep sides you’ll lose the toasty edges because the water can’t evaporate and they get soggy rather than crisp
- I like using an oil mister and spritzer to lightly coat the pepper skins with first, it helps the outside of the peppers caramelize nicely
- Take the tomatoes and quarter them – note the original recipe calls for them to be skinned but I never bother with home grown or organic produce. If you think they may have been sprayed then skin em’! If you have cherry tomatoes just pop three or four into each pepper half.
- Peel and dice the garlic cloves – try this garlic roller peeler for fast skinning – and chop finely then divide evenly between the peppers
- Slice the olives do the same as above
- If you like anchovies snip one or two into bits and add to the peppers
- Now pour half a teaspoon of the extra virgin olive oil over each pepper and add a good sprinkle of freshly ground pepper
Bake in a medium oven on the top shelf for 45 – 50 minutes.
Note that with this dish (and any using olive oil) you don’t want the smoking point of olive oil to be reached. It’s better to cook for longer to pull out all the flavors, so keep the heat to medium and let the subtle flavor of olives sink through the peppers and tomatoes.
Salt – if you use anchovies you won’t need salt and anyway, I’d leave people to add it at the table if they feel it necessary.
Add a cube or two of mozzarella or any cheese of your choice before cooking – alternatively Parmesan sprinkled over about halfway through cooking, adds a lovely cheesy, crusty twist to the taste.
I absolutely promise the liquid at the bottom of the dish is the best part and divine mopped up with sourdough bread, or a chunk of black pepper and cheesy bread – you can find the bread recipes here.