Colorful sweet peppers abound in Italian markets and they are inexpensive. Peppers are prepared in numerous ways: marinated for antipasti, stuffed and baked, made into filling for pasta, pureed for sauces, and sliced raw for salads. I love to make stuffed sweet red peppers the Neapolitan way. Make this in the summer when red peppers are less expensive.
8 large red bell peppers
1/4 to 1/2 cup peanut oil
2 small eggplants, peeled and diced
1/2 cup finely chopped pitted Gaeta olives
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1/4 to 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons Filippo Berio extra-virgin olive oil
10 1/2-inch slices Italian bread
1 cup diced mozzarella cheese (about 1/4 pound)
6 fresh plum tomatoes, chopped
1 cup toasted fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Place the peppers on an oiled grill or broiler pan and grill or broil them, turning them occasionally, until they are blackened all over. Place them in a paper bag, close the bag, and let them cool. Peel off the skins. Remove the core, cut down one side of each pepper, and open them out flat. Carefully remove the seeds and set the peppers aside.
In a skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the peanut oil and fry the eggplant in batches, until browned, adding more oil as necessary. Remove the eggplant to a large bowl. Add the olives, capers, and basil, and mix well.
Wipe out the skillet and add 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Heat the oil and fry the bread slices a few at a time, adding more oil as necessary, until browned on both sides. Drain on brown paper. Tear the bread into small chunks and add to the eggplant mixture. Add the cheese and plum tomatoes, and mix well.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Combine the bread crumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Place about 1/2 cup of the eggplant mixture on one end of each pepper and roll each pepper up like a jelly roll. Place the peppers in an oiled baking dish and drizzle them with the 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top. Bake for 15 minutes or until heated through. Serve immediately.
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