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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Hot Pepper

I am still dealing with this spring's poor judgment.  That's right.  I am still getting two CSA baskets every week and as such, I am still overwhelmed by fresh produce.  I should also note, that if kale is in season at one farm, it's a sure bet that kale will be in season at all the other farms that also grow it.  Needless to say, there's a lot of duplication going on around here.

Such is the case with this week's over abundance of banana peppers.  Truthfully, I don't think I've ever even eaten a banana pepper, and now between my two CSA's, I have 12 to use before they go bad.

What to do?  What to do?

Stuffed peppers.  That's what to do.

I've stuffed other kinds of peppers, but never banana peppers.  And I've seen stuffed banana peppers on menus in restaurants, but I've never tried them.   I'm an adventurous gal and there's no time like the present.

An exhaustive review, (well, not so exhaustive -- more a perusal), of Google reveals that there are as many variations on the theme of stuffed banana peppers as there are on marinara sauce.  Each offered it's own little twist, but basically all encompassing the same general ingredients: sausage, egg, bread crumbs, and onion.  Think of a stuffed pepper as kind of a meatball stuffed into a pepper.

Having now been armed with stuffed pepper basics, I decided that this was area where I could just wing it.   Since there's really no cooking chemistry involved in making stuffed peppers, I went through my pantry and came up with my own take on this classic.  I don't know how classic my peppers were, but they were certainly tasty.

So here goes.  Let me know what you think.

Recipe:  Stuffed Banana Peppers


8 banana peppers
1 pound turkey italian sausage
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup dried italian bread crumbs
2 cups marinara sauce
1/2 cup shredded ricotta salata


Preheat oven to 350F.

Cut off the tops of the peppers, and remove the ribs and seeds.  (I use a grapefruit knife to do this.)  Chop edible portions of the tops, set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Cook the reserved pepper, onion, and garlic until tender, 3 to 4 minutes.  Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine the sausage (remove casings if the sausage came in links), egg, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, oregano, and basil.  Add the reserved cooked vegetables.  Mix well, making sure to combine all the ingredients evenly.

Using your hands (or a sausage stuffer if you have one), gently stuff the sausage mixture into the hollowed out peppers, taking care to completely fill the cavity.  Spread about 1/3 cup of the marinara sauce in the bottom of the baking dish and place the stuffed peppers in the dish.  Cover the peppers with the remaining marinara, and sprinkle the top with the ricotta salata.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the sausage is cooked, the peppers are soft, and the whole assembly is bubbling.

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