Not like typical stuffed peppers with a meat or rice filling, these are baked with a sprinkling of pine nuts and capers, topped with seasoned breadcrumbs, and sprinkled with olive oil. They make a fine first course alongside other simple antipasti, or a great side dish with plain grilled or roasted meat or fish. These peppers are typical of the Italian region of Puglia where Ann’s family has its origins. For advance preparation, get everything ready and bake close to the time you intend to serve them, or bake the peppers early in the day for the evening. However, don’t make these the day before or the breadcrumbs will lose their freshly toasted flavor.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 cup well drained canned plum tomatoes, crushed
3 large red or yellow bell peppers, or a combination, about 1 1/2 pounds
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup tiny capers, drained
1 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated on a Microplane
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
One 9 x 13 x 2-inch glass or metal baking pan, or a similar size gratin dish, brushed with olive oil
Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 375˚F. Evenly spread the tomatoes in the prepared baking dish.
Rinse the peppers and drain them. Halve or quarter the peppers, depending on their size, and pull away the stem and seed pod. Shake or brush away any stray seeds. Arrange the pepper pieces, skin side down, on the tomatoes. Sprinkle the pine nuts and capers on top.
Mix the breadcrumbs with the garlic and parsley and top each piece of pepper with about 1 tablespoon. Drizzle the olive oil over the breadcrumb topping.
Bake the peppers until they are tender and the breadcrumbs are deep golden, about 30 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure the tomatoes are not drying out too much. If necessary, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water, but be sure to place it directly in the pan to avoid wetting the breadcrumbs.
Cool the peppers and serve them warm or at room temperature.