Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pepper Poppers

One of the things I enjoy about la cucina del sud (southern cooking) in Italy, is that they are willing to take things up a notch on the spicy scale. We love Italian cuisine but around Ascoli Piceno, the faintest hint of heat and they are crying "pizzica!" (It stings!)

Not so down in the mother land. They will sprinkle peperoncino on pasta and drizzle chile oil on veggies. They also make these nice little appetizers called peperoncini ripieni di tonno, which I just call pepper poppers. They are so popular you can find them readily available in jars, preserved in olive oil.

They are a tantalizing taste blend of spicy cherry peppers stuffed with tuna. Don't let the strange combo put you off; believe me, they'll get you addicted so you'll be...well, popping them one after the other!

Pepper Poppers

1 jar hot cherry peppers, drained

1 can tuna, packed in olive oil
1 tsp. capers
1 tsp. anchovy paste or 1 or 2 anchovies from a jar (trust me on this, okay?!)
1 clove garlic
about 2 TBSP fresh parsley

In a food processor or blender, combine everything except the peppers, processing until blended and almost creamy. Spoon the filling into the peppers.

That's it! It's almost *too* easy, but it's so delicious. The saltiness from the capers and anchovies blends well with the tuna, while the zing from the peppers makes it all come alive.

One variation I sometimes make is to make it a little more decadent by adding about a tablespoon of cream cheese. It gives it a velvety texture and tones down the heat a little, if you're serving to wimps!


Chef Chuck said...

These is one I need to try, and sounds so delish! another one of your inspiring recipes!! Love the blog! Thank You :)

Valerie said...

It is delish! When my cousin in Basilicata handed one to me the first time I thought, "weird combo, not going to like it" but then got quickly addicted. They go over like gangbusters at a potluck!