Friday, November 1, 2013

Italian Stuffed Cherry Peppers


These spicy stuffed cherry peppers are a revisit from one of the first posts I ever wrote for my blog Cook’s Book. They and all of the things they are composed of—provolone, spicy sopressata, garlic—are truly among my absolute favorite things. Inspired by an Italian deli counter staple I have enjoyed for ages, to me they are a perfect food, which is why I believe they deserve another chance in the spotlight.

I originally shared only the sopressata-stuffed red peppers. They are my own recipe, and one of the earliest of my picky repertoire. This time around I tweaked the recipe with some improvements I’ve discovered over time—a little more cheese here, a little less oil there. I also added the green peppers stuffed with prosciutto-wrapped cubes of sharp provolone for fun. Most jars of cherry peppers come with both red and green peppers so might as well use each of them uniquely. Of course, the type of stuffing is not exclusive to the color of the pepper; this is just how I prefer them; the red peppers are a little sweeter than the green and flow better with the different components of the sopressata stuffing mixture.

Just thinking of these peppers literally makes my mouth water, and I’m not just saying that because it’s a cool (not really) food blogger thing to say. The bright colors and the smell of the vinegary peppers are beyond enticing. They define the term “appetizer.” I usually serve them as an antipasto on holidays. The red peppers are an ideal combination of cheesy, meaty, spicy goodness. The green are just as good, but with a nice hunk of provolone cheese and salty prosciutto to mute the heat a bit. And both only continue to get better as they marinate.

If you enjoy spicy foods, these peppers are perfect. If you don’t like the heat or would like to make the recipe more crowd-friendly, substitute sweet cherry peppers and sweet sopressata. It may be better to play it safe and do sweet for guests. I somehow ended up with a hotter-than-usual jar of peppers and as much as I like spicy, I have to admit the whole mouth of fire thing kind of took away from the great flavors in the filling.

Italian Stuffed Cherry Peppers
Yield: 10 stuffed peppers (5 red/5 green—double recipe for 10 each)
-  1 large jar mixed hot & spicy red & green cherry peppers or 1 jar of each (substitute sweet cherry peppers for a mild flavor), set aside at least 2 red peppers
-  Sharp provolone cut into 5-10 ½” cubes, plus 1/3 cup grated
-  3-4 slices very thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into strips ½”-1” thick
-   ½ cup hot sopressata (can substitute mild), minced
-  1 garlic clove, grated or finely minced
-  2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-  2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
-  1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
-  Salt and pepper to taste
-  Olive oil for storing
1) Using a paring knife, remove the stems from each pepper and remove all seeds. Wrap the provolone cubes with the strips of prosciutto and stuff inside of the green peppers.
2) Finely dice the red peppers that are set aside and mix with the grated provolone, sopressata, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic, and thyme leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stuff the mixture into the red peppers until full. Toss the stuffed peppers with a drizzle of olive oil and serve or refrigerate.

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