This recipe is based upon one from Marcella Hazan’s Marcella Cucina. I really love her food. And she sounds like quite a firecracker too. I’ve read somewhere that she’s a big fan of bourbon. Anyone who can cook that well and loves bourbon is alright in my book. I’ve a copy of her autobiography, Amarcord: Marcella Remembers, somewhere around here. I really need to find it soon.
Her recipe uses yellow or red bell peppers and she makes a big point of having you char and remove the outer membrane. I’ve done that several times, but it is a nightmare. Though I have to agree, it makes the final dish more tender, I don’t think that the effort is worth it. Instead, I’ve steamed my peppers, like I did for the poblanos and reds stuffed with saffron rice.
As to the poblano versus the bell, I remain of the opinion that poblanos simply taste better whereas bells just taste sweet. To each cook his or her own, I suppose. I added pepitas for a bit of crunch and it seems to match the peppers well. I did have two small reds, which I also stuffed. Oddly, these two ended up being leftovers after Hegui and I gorged on the smokier Mexican peppers.
poblano peppers stuffed with Italian eggplant, anchovy and pepitas
4 to 6 poblano or red bell peppers
1 medium Italian eggplant (about a pound)
2 tbsp pepitas
6 anchovy fillets
2 tbsp Italian parsley
1 tbsp capers
1 garlic clove, peeled
3 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
¼ tsp oregano
2 tbsp olive oil
1 Roma tomato, peeled and chopped
black pepper to taste
Cut eggplant into about ½ inch dice. Toss with ample salt in a colander. Let sit for about 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Fry in vegetable oil until translucent and soft. Remove from oil to large bowl.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Cut poblano peppers in half and remove seeds and ribs. If using bell peppers, carefully cut tops off and remove seeds and ribs. Steam for ten minutes. Remove from heat and run under cold water to cool.
Toast pepitas in dry pan until slightly browned and popping. Set aside.
Coarsely chop garlic, capers, Italian parsley, and anchovies together. Add to eggplant. Add tomato, oregano, olive oil, pepitas, black pepper, and 2 tbsp panko to eggplant. Fold together.
Using two tablespoons, stuff peppers with filling, about one tbsp each. Place in a baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining panko. Bake 15 to 20 minutes.
Allow peppers to cool to room temperature before serving.