In Italy, many restaurants offer an antipasti table that usually contains some vegetable options. One of my favorite selections at the antipasti table has always been roasted vegetables topped with a seasoned breadcrumb mixture. Halved small zucchini or tomatoes, or bell peppers are often prepared in this fashion. There is just something about vegetables that are slowly roasted to bring out their sweetness and topped with a crispy coating that I feel is Italian simplicity at its best. We recently took a trip to the Amalfi coast and although the scenery was stunning, it was the cuisine that we fell in love with. Lemon features a major role in many dishes and being a coastal location, fresh seafood can be found everywhere from the small, casual beach clubs to the most upscale restaurants.
Cetara (in photo left) is a small fishing village along the coast that I wanted to visit after reading that they were famous for their anchovies and tuna. I am not a big fan of anchovies in the jar or tin but have learned to love fresh anchovies. I have also discovered over the years that a little anchovy can add a subtle depth of flavor to many dishes without causing the dish to taste “fishy”. In fact, I always have anchovies on hand in my pantry to flavor many of my dishes. While in Amalfi, we saw many dishes listed on restaurant menus featuring anchovies from Cetara, so I made sure to buy a few jars to bring back to Umbria with me.
This particular recipe is one we enjoyed while dining in the coastal town of Amalfi, where we ate on a patio overlooking the sea, and enjoyed two courses of fresh seafood and shared a couple of appetizers. There is just something about dining by the sea, with a cooling breeze caressing you that just makes anything you eat taste better! These peppers are very easy to assemble as the food processor does all the work. There is a fairly long list of ingredients, but it takes just minutes to create the topping. I prefer these peppers served at room temperature when the flavors shine. I never throw out any stale bread in my kitchen. Instead, I use the stale bread to make Panzanella (bread salad) or to make fresh breadcrumbs for dishes such as this one. The leftover anchovy-herb sauce used to flavor the breadcrumbs is also delicious tossed with hot pasta!
Our table view while dining in Amalfi.
Deborah Mele 2015
Anchovy Crumb Stuffed Peppers
- 4 Large Red Peppers
- 2 Anchovies
- 3 Tablespoons Flavorful Pitted Olives, Chopped
- 2 Tablespoons Salted Capers, Rinsed
- 1 Garlic Clove, Peeled
- 1/3 Cup Fresh Parsley Leaves
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Blanched Almonds
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 1 Small Red Chili Pepper (Optional)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 1/2 Cups Fresh Breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cut the peppers into quarters, and remove the seeds and membranes.
- Lay the peppers cut side up on a baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes.
- While the peppers are baking, add the anchovies, olives, capers, garlic, parsley, and almonds into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
- Season with salt, pepper, and the red chili if using.
- Drizzle in about 3/4 cup of olive oil, and pulse until blended.
- Place the breadcrumbs in a small bowl, and add about 1/3 to 1/2 of a cup of the anchovy mixture and stir to mix well. (Keep the rest of the anchovy sauce for another use)
- Remove the peppers from the oven and sprinkle the crumb mixture on top of each pepper.
- Return to the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes.
- Cool to room temperature before serving.
Adapted from The Amalfi Coast by Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi