From James Beard Award-nominated cookbook author Michele Scicolone, who brought us New York Times bestseller The Soprano Family Cookbook, comes The Italian Vegetable Cookbook. No gabagool here, folks. But none needed, either. Italian vegetable preparations are superb on their own, particularly when they're made even more Italian by being stuffed with pasta.
Capers, olives and anchovies are the Three Musketeers of southern Italian cooking. Here they are mixed with tomatoes and pasta to stuff sweet bell peppers before roasting. If the peppers are very large or if I am making these as part of an antipasto and want smaller portions, I cut the peppers in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and stuff each half for smaller individual servings.
- 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 (2-ounce) can anchovy fillets, drained and chopped (can be omitted to keep the dish entirely vegetarian)
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup pitted imported black olives, chopped
- freshly ground black pepper
- 6 large red or yellow bell peppers
- 4 ounces ditalini, tubetti, or other small pasta
- 1 cup water
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Oil a baking dish just large enough to hold the peppers upright.
- Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.
- In a large skillet, cook the garlic in the oil over medium heat for 1 minute until softened.
- Stir in the tomatoes and oregano and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the anchovies, capers, olives and salt and pepper to taste.
- Meanwhile, cut the tops off the peppers and set them aside. With a small sharp knife, remove and discard the seeds and the white membranes from the insides.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir, and cook, stirring frequently, until al dente. Drain well, then stir the pasta into the tomato sauce.
- Fill each pepper about three-quarters full with the pasta mixture.
- Place the tops on them and arrange them in the baking dish. Pour the water around them.
- Bake for 45 minutes, or until the peppers are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve warm.
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