We had a meal inspired by our trip to Italy, starting with Vegetable-Stuffed Peppers, followed by Lemon Risotto, which my mom loves. Then we had Citrus Crumb–Topped Red Snapper.
When we were in Italy, we ate at a place, Vincenzo’s and we had some wonderful vegetable-stuffed peppers; this was my at-home version. The peppers I used were from the farmers’ market; I bought them in green and yellow and red.
- 4 bell peppers
- Salt and pepper
- Natural olive oil spray
- 1/2 cup EVOO
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup drained canned Italian tuna
- 1 small zucchini, halved, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 small (1/2- to 3/4-pound) firm eggplant, the skin peeled off in stripes, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 3 or 4 cloves spring garlic, finely chopped or thinly sliced
- 1 red Fresno chile, seeded and very finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons capers (I used an Italian variety)
- 12 to 15 Gaeta olives or kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Cut off about one-quarter of the pepper off, set the “tops” aside, and hollow the peppers out. Salt and pepper the insides and spray the outsides with a little bit of olive oil spray. Place them on a baking sheet cut side down and roast for about 10 minutes to brown and slump them. Set them aside to cool enough to handle. Leave the oven on but reduce the temperature to 400°F.
Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the EVOO (4 turns of the pan) over medium-high heat. Add the panko and stir until deeply golden and very nutty and fragrant. Add the parsley and tuna and finely mash with a fork to combine it completely so that you don’t see any bits of tuna and it just looks like toasted breadcrumbs. Transfer to a plate.
Wipe out the skillet and heat the remaining 1/4 cup EVOO (4 turns of the pan) over medium heat. Add the zucchini, eggplant, onion, garlic, chile, capers, olives, and a little bit of salt and pepper, and cook until tender-crisp (they should still have a little bite left to them. Add the panko mixture to the pan and stir to combine.
Stuff the peppers with the mixture, mounding it high, and put the tops back in place. Spray the tops of the peppers where the stuffing is exposed with a little bit more of the olive oil. Bake them in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes or so to warm them through and crisp the tops. Serve them room temperature or hot.