In the Sorrento peninsula, famous for the Amalfi Coast, bell peppers are stuffed with a mixture of eggplant, olives, capers, bread, basil, and parsley. We enjoyed this humble but tasty vegan antipasto at Lo Stuzzichino. It is a bit of a chore to peel and stuff the peppers, but otherwise this is a pretty straightforward dish. The word imbottiti means “buttoned up”, and is a common name for stuffed vegetables in the south of Italy.
For 6 servings
- 6 bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange)
- 2 eggplants (about 600 grams gross weight)
- 100 grams stale white bread
- 50 grams pitted olives
- 25 grams salted capers, rinsed and dried
- 12 leaves fresh basil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- handful of fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1 Tbsp dried breadcrumbs
Start by roasting the bell peppers under the broiler for 5-10 minutes per side. Place them close to the heat source, as you want the skin to blacken without overcooking the peppers.
Place the peppers in a plastic bag and close it to allow the steam to loosen the skin while they cool off.
In the meantime, pierce the eggplants all over with a fork and roast them in the oven at 180C/350F for 1 hour.
The eggplant should become soft. Allow them to cool until you can handle them.
Peel the peppers when they have cooled down enough that you can do so without burning your fingers. Do this carefully, to keep the peppers whole. Remove the stems and remove the seeds from the inside by scraping carefully with a spoon.
Cut the ends off the eggplant and discard. Use a spoon to scrape the eggplant flesh out, and discard the skin.
Chop the bread. Put the bread in a blender together with the eggplant, basil, parsley, capers, olives, and about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
Puree to obtain a coarse but homogeneous mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper. As the capers and olives are already salty, you may not need to add any salt. Add some more olive oil if the mixture seems too dry.
Brush an oven dish with olive oil. Carefully stuff the bell peppers with the stuffing, and place them in the oiled oven dish. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with dried breadcrumbs. The dish can be prepared in advance up to this point.
Bake the peppers in the oven at 180C/350F for about 30 minutes.
Drizzle with some more extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with minced fresh flat leaf parsley to serve.
This is very nice with a lightly-colored dry rosé, but a white from Campania such as Greco or Fiano would also work.