These delicious and versatile Stuffed Peppers are from the cookbook “Jewish Flavors of Italy” by Silvia Nacamulli- a member of the FOODISH advisory committee, a London cook, lecturer and author of Roman origin who specializes in Jewish-Italian cuisine.
According to the chef, this dish works equally well as a starter or main course. She likes to mix the eggplant with pesto and sometimes adds a little crumbled feta in with the mozzarella – even if that is breaking Italian culinary rules! The stuffed peppers keep well in the fridge for a few days, and also freeze well.
Ingredients for Stuffed Peppers
- 4-5 peppers of any color
- 5 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin plus extra for greasing
- 2-3 eggplants about 1lb 9oz (700g), cut into ½ in (1 cm) cubes
- 5.3 oz (150g) mozzarella sliced
- Atlantic sea salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
For the Pesto:
- ¾ oz (20g) fresh basil sprigs and leaves
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 1–2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt to taste
Preparing the Eggplant:
1. Heat the 5 tablespoons of oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the cubed eggplant and a pinch of salt and pepper and stir well. Cook, partially covered and stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until tender. Then uncover and cook for another 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from heat.
2. TIP: Be patient. Even if the eggplant seems dry, don’t add more oil! They will release most of the oil they have absorbed while cooking.
Preparing the Pesto:
3. Meanwhile, using an immersion blender, food processor, or mortar and pestle, mix together the basil, parmesan, a pinch of salt and about 1–2 tablespoons of oil, just enough to bind the mixture.
4. Add this to the cooked eggplant and mix together to coat.
Filling and Baking the Peppers:
5. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6).
6. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise, or thirds if particularly large, remove the seeds and white membranes, and rinse. Put them, hollow-side up, in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet.
7. Fill each pepper with the eggplant mixture, distributing it evenly among them.
8. Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes, or until the peppers are tender and golden. Switch the oven to broil (grill) mode, remove the pan from the oven and place a slice of mozzarella on each pepper. Return the pan to the oven and grill under the grill for 2-3 minutes, until the cheese melts. Serve hot, with bread.
Note: You can prepare this dish up to the beginning of Step 4 (before melting the mozzarella on top) ahead of time and set it aside. When ready to serve, put the peppers back in a hot oven for about 10 minutes, then follow the rest of Step 4 (melting).