We picked these gorgeous red bell and yellow banana peppers from our garden yesterday, and I had planned to stuff them with a salsa rice and bean stuffing and let them cook in my slow cooker. However, seeing that these adorable cherry peppers were ready, too, made me suddenly crave the stuffed cherry pepper appetizer my mother used to make on holidays and special occasions. The original family recipe calls for jarred cherry peppers and I’d never made them with fresh ones.
Since I wanted to make a stuffing for all three kinds of peppers that we picked, I adapted the recipe to add some additional ingredients to bulk up the stuffing and make it more of a main dish instead of an appetizer. The stuffing leans to the Sicilian with its inclusion of raisins and figs. I didn’t have any figs in the house so I left them out.
The bright fresh pepper flavor was wonderful, from the sweetness of the red bells to the fiery heat of the cherry peppers, and the stuffing complemented them all. The peppers I used weren’t very big, so they made enough for the two of us for dinner with a little left over. If you’re serving them with something else, they’d probably stretch to feed four. If you have larger peppers, just add some more ingredients to the stuffing – you can also throw in some chopped mushrooms or white beans, if you have them.
Here’s the recipe as I adapted it from Vegan Fire and Spice:
Italian Stuffed Peppers
This recipe is adapted from Vegan Fire & Spice.
2 red bell peppers
2 banana peppers
5 hot cherry peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel seed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Use a sharp knife to cut the bell peppers and banana peppers in half lengthwise and slice off the caps of the cherry peppers. Remove the seeds from the peppers. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the peppers. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 5 minutes to slightly soften the peppers. Drain and set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 375°degrees F. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook until softened. Stir in the bread crumbs, walnuts, raisins, parsley, basil, fennel, and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and stir in a small amount of water to help the stuffing hold together.
Pack the stuffing mixture tightly inside each of the peppers and arrange in a lightly oiled baking dish. Cover and bake until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 10 minutes to brown the tops.
Serves 2 to 4