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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Tag Archives: Bell pepper

The garden pepper is not related to the true pepper (Piper nigrum) from which we get the common black pepper for seasoning our food. Why do we call garden peppers “pepper”? The answer goes back to Columbus. He had set forth on his famous voyages to find a short route to India and the East Indies largely for trade. Spices from the East were important in commerce and therefore of much interest to Columbus and his commercial-adventurer associates. When they found the inhabitants of the West Indies growing and using fiery forms of Capsicum, the product was thought to be a kind of pepper.

In the first half of the 16th century, voyagers to the Americas encountered many forms of peppers, not only in the West Indies but in Central America, Mexico, Peru, Chile-wherever they touched the American Tropics. By the beginning of the 17th century virtually every form known today had been found.

The Scoville Heat Index, invented by Wilbur Scoville, ranks peppers in order from mildest to hottest. It starts with zero being the mildest and goes over 1,000,000 to indicate the hottest peppers. Use a pair of non-latex gloves to protect your hands when handling peppers. Some individuals are more sensitive to the irritants in peppers than others. Though there are dozens of different kinds of peppers, here’s information on some of the more widely used types.  

BELL PEPPER

Bell Peppers can be red, yellow, green, orange or purple/black. . They are very common sweet peppers. Since this type of pepper has no heat, its Scoville Heat Index is zero. You can cook bell peppers in a variety of different ways, however don’t expect this type of pepper to add spice to your food.

 

CUBANELLE PEPPERS

Cubanelles are also called the Italian Frying Pepper because they taste great sauteed with a little olive oil. The Cubanelle is considered a sweet pepper, although its heat can range from mild to moderate. Cubanelles are usually picked before they ripen while they are a yellowish-green color, but when ripe, they turn bright red. They are usually about 4-6 inches long, 2 inches wide, and banana-shaped, tapering near the bottom. The skin should be glossy and the pepper should be smooth and firm.

SWEET BANANA PEPPER

Banana-shaped peppers change from pale to deep yellow or orange as they mature. These are easily confused with hotter yellow wax peppers, so taste before using.  Sweet Banana peppers may be fried or sauteed, used raw on relish platters, in salads, in sandwiches or stuffed.

ITALIAN SWEET PEPPERS

Italian sweet peppers look much like the Anaheim chili pepper used in Southwestern cooking but with the mild taste of sweet bell peppers.The pepper is 6 to 8 inches long, conical and bright green with a mild flavor and fleshy texture. In Italian recipes the peppers are sauteed in olive oil as a side dish for meats. Italian sweet peppers can also top pizza or be included in pasta and risotto. Italian sweet peppers are sometimes added to salads and antipasto platters.

PEPERONCINO

(Not to be confused with the green Tuscan Peppers called Pepperoncini.) One of the most beautiful colors of summer in southern Italy is the deep red of chili peppers, strung together and hung out to dry from windows, balconies, clotheslines or nailed to trees in the countryside—especially in Calabria. This region, at the tip of the boot of Italy, is the main producer and consumer of chili pepper, or peperoncino, as it is called in Italian. In the Calabrian markets, you will often see elderly women, clothed completely in black, sitting beside their colorful heaps of produce, patiently sewing strings of chili with a needle and thread.

The chili pepper plant belongs to the Capsicum genus,which is part of the same family as tomatoes. In Italy, Capiscuum annuumi, which is known as peperoncino di Cayenna, is the most common hot pepper grown. On the Scoville scale, peperoncino di Cayenna ranges in the middle. In southern Italy, these little red peppers are often called diavoletti (little devils). Typically, hot countries develop hot, spicy cuisines as a natural means of cooling down the body through perspiration.

Chili peppers were grown as a food crop as early as 4000 BC in Central America; but it wasn’t until the arrival of the Spanish in the mid-16th. century that the plant was introduced to the rest of the world. Very quickly, trade routes began carrying chili peppers to Europe, Africa, India, the Middle East and Asia. Today, this spice seems to be growing in popularity around the globe. In northern Italy, where chili pepper was virtually unknown just a couple of generations ago, peperoncino is now more and more appreciated and incorporated into Italian cuisine. Peperoncino adds spice and flavor not only to the simple foods of southern Italy, but for some people, this hot spice becomes almost addictive. Spicy food lovers add it to virtually everything – fish, vegetable pasta sauces, soups and stews, as well as egg dishes. As a general rule of thumb, peperoncino is not recommended for delicate and creamy preparations, but is more suitable for robust sauces and recipes. In southern Italy, ground chili peppers are sometimes added to salami and cheese. Also, hot peppers are preserved in oil to produce a flavorful, spicy oil.

 

CHERRY PEPPER

Also known as pimento peppers, cherry peppers are heart-shaped and are about four inches long and three inches wide. These peppers are actually very mild, scoring about 500 on the Scoville Heat Index. Cherry peppers are perhaps best known to be the red filling that can typically be found inside green olives.

ANAHEIM PEPPER

Another mild type of pepper is the Anaheim pepper. This pepper is usually dark red in color and has a long, skinny body. While the Anaheim pepper usually has a Scoville Heat Index around 1,000, some varieties can have a rating as high as 5,000. Relative to the rest of this list, this pepper is not very hot.

JALAPENO PEPPER

The jalapeno is one of the most common types of peppers in the United States. Many people like this type of pepper because of its spicy, yet not overwhelming taste. Jalapeno are usually either red or green and are about two to three inches long. Their Scoville Heat Index is typically around 5,000, however jalapenos can range anywhere from 2,000 to 8,000. These peppers, when used sparingly, add just the right amount of spicy flavor to most Mexican dishes. Many people also deep fry cheese stuffed jalapenos for a spicy appetizer.

POBLANO PEPPER

Mild, heart-shaped pepper that has thick walls, which make them great for stuffing. Because it is a rather mild pepper, it can be used in quantity to add a deep rich flavor to any chili dish.

SERRANO PEPPER

The Serrano pepper is similar to the jalapeno in its look, but this pepper is much hotter. On the Scoville Heat Index, the Serrano Pepper can be between 10,000 and 25,000. This pepper is usually small (around two inches) and green in color. As a general rule of thumb, the smaller the Serrano pepper, the hotter it will taste.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                        CAYENNE PEPPER

The Cayenne pepper is another hot pepper (between 25,000 and 50,000 on the Scoville Heat Index) that is popular with those looking to add heat to food. Red in color, the Cayenne pepper is generally dried and used in powder form. Additionally, this pepper has been used in natural medicines for hundreds of years, due to its reported healing attributes.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                           THAI PEPPER

Grown in Thailand and neighboring countries, the Thai pepper is a type of pepper that can be classified as “very hot”. With a Scoville Heat Index of between 50,000 and 100,000, these peppers are sure to leave your taste buds wanting relief. The Thai pepper is one of the smallest peppers, measuring in at less than an inch. It’s used in many spicy Thai dishes at restaurants in the US.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                        ROCOTO PEPPER

While Rocoto peppers look somewhat like bell peppers, it can be dangerous to get the two mixed up. While bell peppers aren’t hot at all, the Rocoto pepper is extremely hot. Between 100,000 and 250,000 on the Scoville Heat Index, this pepper is about the size of a bell pepper but is rounder and is typically only red or green. Some people use this pepper to make very spicy sauces.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                    HABANERO CHILI PEPPER

Of hot peppers that are commonly used, the Habanero chili is recognized as the hottest. This pepper can range in color from green to yellow and is usually only around 1 ½ inches or 3 centimeters in length. However, do not let the small size fool you – the Habanero chili can pack a punch! The Scoville Heat Index for the Habanero chili can range from 150,000 to 350,000.

PEPPERONCINI

Pepperoncini (Tuscan Peppers) are another kind of chili pepper that is green when young and red when fully mature. Unlike the Italian sweet peppers, pepperoncini have a wrinkly skin and are crunchy, slightly bitter and somewhat spicy. They grow from 2 inches to 4 inches long and are a popular Italian appetizer. They are also often served pickled, which gives them a light salty taste. Pepperoncini were originally grown in Tuscany, so they are also called Tuscan Peppers.

 

Pickled Pepperoncini Without Canning

Pepperoncini are not as spicy as many other peppers, so they are a good choice for those who do not enjoy extremely spicy food. You can stuff them, add them to soups and sandwiches, incorporate them into soups and stews or eat them as a pickle. Pepperoncini are most often pickled rather than used plain. Pickling your own pepperoncini is a relatively simple process and you enjoy these peppers for months to come.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. fresh pepperoncini peppers
  • 2-1/2 cups water
  • 3 cups vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 4 garlic cloves

Directions:

Wash the peppers with cold water and allow them to dry.

Put water, vinegar, sugar and salt into a soup pot. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and stir until the sugar and salt have completely dissolved. Reduce the heat to medium and add bay leaves, whole coriander seeds and black peppercorns. Chop the garlic into small chunks and add it to the pot. Allow this to simmer for five minutes.

Leave peppers whole and pierce their sides three to four times. Place the peppers into storage jars and leave about 1 inch of head space.

Pour the hot liquid into the jars containing the peppers, screw on their lids and allow the jars to cool before placing them in the refrigerator. Let the peppers marinade for at least a week before using. The pickle flavor will be stronger the longer they sit.

Tips: The pickles will keep for several months in the refrigerator. Do not use if pressure develops in the jars or if the liquid becomes really cloudy and begins to smell. This can be a sign of contamination and the pickles are not safe to eat.

Stuffed Hot Peppers

6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 15 small hot peppers
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
  • 3 anchovies, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or more if needed)
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Slice the peppers in half lengthwise, including the stem. Scrape out the seeds (use a grapefruit spoon). Leave a few seeds in if you like your food spicy.

Mix all the other ingredients together making sure the stuffing is well saturated with oil.

Using a small spoon, stuff the peppers with the bread crumb mixture. Pat down lightly. Place the peppers in a greased baking pan and cover with tin foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and check peppers for tenderness. Bake 8-10 more minutes if needed.

Serve immediately or at room temperature.

 

Italian Roasted Sweet Peppers

Ingredients:

  • 16 large sweet Italian peppers
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Fresh Basil

Directions:

Wash the peppers and allow to completely dry.

Cut off the stem ends and pull out the seeds and white membranes.

Turn the peppers upside down and tap on the cutting board to shake out any loose seeds.

Put the oil and minced garlic into a large glass baking pan and mix the two.

Add the peppers and toss until each pepper is totally coated with garlic oil.

Roast at 350 degrees F. for about 50 minutes. When the peppers begin to brown and start to collapse, they are done. Sprinkle with salt and fresh basil.

They can also be refrigerated for a day or two until needed for another recipe. They are excellent as a side for pork chops or roasted chicken breasts.

 

Italian Sausage and Peppers

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. sweet Italian pork or turkey sausage with fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 large yellow onions, cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 6 pickled cherry (hot) peppers, stemmed and seeded, but left whole
  • 2 medium yellow bell peppers , cored, seeded and cut into 1-inch strips
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into 1-inch strips

Directions:

Poke the sausages all over with a fork and cut into 5-6 inch pieces. Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil into a large heavy skillet and heat over medium heat. Add half the sausages and half the garlic and cook, turning occasionally, until the sausages are well browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer the browned sausages and garlic to a 13 x 9-inch baking dish, leaving the fat behind.  Pour the fat off and add the remaining oil. Cook the remaining sausages and garlic until browned. Transfer to the baking dish.

While the sausages are browning preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Scatter the onions, peppers and cherry peppers over the sausages in the baking dish, toss all the ingredients together well and place in the oven.

Bake uncovered, tossing occasionally, until the vegetables are tender but still firm and no trace of pink remains in the sausages, about 45 minutes. Serve hot with crusty Italian bread.

Italian Broccoli with Peppers

6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups water
  • 4 cups fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 medium sweet red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 medium sweet yellow bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add broccoli; cover and boil for 3 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels..

In a large nonstick skillet, saute peppers in oil for 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add the broccoli, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper; cook 2 minutes longer. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Italian Pepper & Egg Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 4 green or red bell peppers, (or Cubanelle or Italian sweet), washed, seeded and sliced.
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin
  • 5 large eggs, scrambled in bowl with 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese
  • 1 loaf of Italian bread, sliced or 4 ciabatta rolls
  • Crushed red pepper (optional)
  • Mild or hot Giardiniera (optional)

See post  on how to make Giardiniera:

https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/06/07/how-to-make-italian-pickled-vegetables-giardiniera/

Directions:

In large skillet add olive oil and garlic and saute on low until garlic is golden, (do not burn). Add peppers and onion, season with salt and pepper, stir to coat vegetables with oil. Continue cooking on low heat, stirring frequently, until peppers are soft. Raise heat to med-high and add eggs, stirring well to mix the eggs into the peppers. Cook eggs thoroughly, but be careful not to burn them. Sprinkle with cheese and red pepper serve on an Italian roll or Italian bread with Giardiniera.

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Chicago Italian Beef Sandwiches

Created on the South Side of Chicago in the Italian neighborhoods around the now defunct Stockyards, the classic Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich is a unique, drippy, messy variation on the French Dip Sandwich. It is available in hundreds of places around the city but rarely found outside of Chicago. The exact origin is unknown, but the sandwich was probably created by Italian immigrants in the early 1900s as they rose from poverty and were able to afford beef for roasting.

No one knows for sure who invented the sandwich, but the recipe was popularized by Pasquale Scala, a South Side butcher and sausage maker. During the Depression food was scarce and Scala’s thinly sliced roast beef on a bun with gravy and fried peppers took off. Today, beef sandwiches are a staple at Italian weddings, funerals, parties, political fundraisers and luncheons and Scala’s Original still supplies hundreds of restaurants and Italian Beef Stands with the raw ingredients.

Italian Beef is made by slowly roasting lean beef in a pan filled with seasoned beef-based stock. Some folks call it gravy, but in most Chicago Italian households gravy is a term reserved for tomato sauces. Others call it au jus or “juice” for short. Then it is sliced paper-thin, soaked in the juice for a few minutes and layered generously, dripping wet, onto sections of Italian bread loaves, sliced lengthwise. According to Allen Kelson, former restaurant critic for Chicago Magazine and now a restaurant consultant, it is important that the bread has “wet strength”. The meat is topped with sautéed green bell pepper slices, Pepperoncini and Giardiniera, which is usually a spicy hot blend of chopped Serrano peppers, carrots, cauliflower florets, celery, olives, herbs, salt & pepper, packed in oil and vinegar. Finally juice is spooned over the toppings, making the bread wet and chewy.

12 servings

Ingredients:

Pot Roast:

  • 1 boneless beef chuck roast (about 3 1/2 pounds)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • Sprigs fresh thyme

Pepper Topping:

  • 1  medium sweet red pepper, julienned
  • 1  medium green pepper, julienned
  • 1  clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2  tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 16  ounces sliced or whole pepperoncinis                                                                                                                                                                                          
  • 2  (1-pound) loaves hearty Italian bread, cut into halves lengthwise

Directions:

For the Pot Roast:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and position a rack in the middle position of the oven. Liberally sprinkle the entire roast with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Brown the roast on all sides until golden and caramelized; reduce the heat if the fat begins to smoke.

Transfer the roast to a plate and reduce the heat to medium. Add in onions and saute, stirring occasionally until just beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper and saute until fragrant. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Deglaze with the red wine and cook until the alcohol smell is diminished. Add in the stock and thyme and bring to a simmer. Place the roast back into the pot with any accumulated juices, cover and place in the oven.

Cook the roast, turning every 30 minutes, until very tender, 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and tent with foil. Strain the juices in the pan through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Once cooled a bit, pull the meat into smaller chunks, add to bowl with pan juices and reserve for the sandwiches.

For the Peppers:
Increase the oven heat to 350 degrees F. Toss the pepper strips with the oil, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper on a baking sheet. Bake, stirring halfway through, until lighter in color and soft, about 20 minutes.

To assemble the sandwich:  Spoon some juice directly onto the bread. Get it very wet. Then layer the beef generously and spoon on more juice. Top it with bell pepper,  Giardiniera and Pepperoncini.

Italian Subs – New York Restaurant Style

“This is a classic Italian sub sandwich with three kinds of meat and provolone cheese. The kind you get in a mom and pop pizza restaurant.

8 Servings

Ingredients:

1 head leaf lettuce, rinsed and torn
2 medium fresh tomatoes, sliced very thin
1 medium red onion, sliced very thin
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pinch dried oregano
1/2 pound sliced hot Capacola
1/2 pound thinly sliced Genoa Salami
1/4 pound thinly sliced Prosciutto
1/2 pound sliced Provolone Cheese
4 submarine rolls, split
1 cup Pepperoncini, sliced to fit sandwich


Directions:

1. In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, tomatoes and onion. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, wine vinegar, parsley, garlic, basil, red pepper flakes and oregano. Pour over the salad, and toss to coat evenly. Refrigerate for about 1 hour.
2. Spread the submarine rolls open, and layer the Capacola, Salami, Prosciutto, and Provolone Cheese evenly on each roll. Top with some of the salad, and as many Pepperoncini pepper slices as desired. Close the rolls and serve.

Pepper and Egg Sandwich

Since the 1950′s, and possibly earlier, the “pepper ‘n egg” sandwich has been a popular lunch for Italian American families. When I was a child, my mother would pack a pepper and egg sandwich for my school lunch box. I can remember some of my school mates, saying, “EWW – what is that….” I just shrugged because it tasted yummy. As an adult, I make pepper and egg sandwiches regularly. I introduced them to my Irish husband long ago and it is still one of his favorite sandwiches.

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 loaf Italian bread or rolls

Directions:

Heat a sauté pan over medium heat then add olive oil. Add the garlic and the crushed red pepper and sauté for a minute or two. Add the onion and peppers, regulating the heat so the onions don’t burn. Sauté until the peppers have softened.
Raise the heat to medium-high and add the beaten eggs. Stir to combine with the onions and peppers and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggs are set.
Slice the bread lengthwise without cutting all the way through. When the eggs are done, gently slide them onto the bread to make a sandwich and cut the loaf into four portions.

Open-Face Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • Four large 1/2-inch-thick slices of Italian peasant bread
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • One 1 1/4-pound eggplant, sliced crosswise into 8 slices 1 inch thick
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 plum tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 8 large basil leaves, torn
  • Coarse sea salt

Directions:

  1. Light a grill. Brush the bread on both sides with olive oil and grill over high heat until crisp on the outside but still soft inside, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer to a platter.
  2. Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Grill over moderate heat until browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Turn and grill until tender, about 3 minutes longer.
  3. Top the eggplant with the tomato, mozzarella and basil. Cover the grill and cook until the cheese just begins to melt, 1-2 minutes. Transfer 2 eggplant slices onto each slice of bread, sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

New Orleans Muffuletta Sandwich

The muffufletta sandwich’s nickname is simply “muff.” These sandwiches can be found all over New Orleans from delis to pool halls and the corner grocery stores. It is considered as much a signature sandwich of New Orleans as the Po’ Boy Sandwich. It is an Italian sandwich that consists of a round loaf of bread (about 10 inches across) filled with Italian salami, olive salad, cheese and Italian ham. They key ingredient is the olive salad which gives the sandwich its special flavor and makes it appealing to the eye. A true Muffuletta Sandwich must always be served at room temperature. Imagine a sandwich that is almost as round as a Frisbee and so wide that it is hard to bite into.
Ingredients:
  • 1 round loaf Italian bread, 10-inches in diameter
  • Olive Salad (see recipe below)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces salami, thinly sliced 
  • 2 ounces Italian ham (Proscuitto), thinly sliced 
  • 2 ounces Provolone cheese, thinly sliced
Directions:
Make Olive Salad.
Cut bread in half crosswise and scoop out about half of the soft dough from top and bottom pieces (this is to provide more room for the sandwich ingredients). Brush the inside bottom of loaf with olive oil or juice from the Olive Salad marinade.
Layer salami, Italian ham and Provolone cheese on the bottom piece.
Top with as much Olive Salad as will fit without spilling out. Add top of loaf and press down slightly. Slice in quarters or sixths and serve at room temperature.
Makes 4-6 servings, depending on the appetite.

Olive Salad

Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup pitted and coarsely chopped green olives 
  • 2/3 cup pitted and coarsely chopped Kalamata olives 
  • 1/2 cup chopped pimiento 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 anchovy fillet, mashed 
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed 
  • 1/2 cup finely-chopped fresh parsley leaves 
  • 1 teaspoon finely-chopped fresh oregano leaves 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper 
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and then allow the flavors to mingle for at least 1 hour prior to serving.
Store, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Italian Meatball Sub

Dominic Conti (1874-1954) claims he was the first to use the name, submarine sandwich. Angela Zuccaro, granddaughter of Dominic, related the following information:
“My grandfather came to this country in 1895 from Montella, Italy. Around 1910, he started his grocery store, called Dominic Conti’s Grocery Store, on Mill Street in Paterson, New Jersey where he was selling the traditional Italian sandwiches. His sandwiches were made from a recipe he brought with him from Italy which consisted of a long crusty roll, filled with cold cuts, topped with lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, oil, vinegar, Italian spices, salt, and pepper. The sandwich started with a  layer of cheese and ended with a layer was cheese (this was so the bread wouldn’t get soggy).”
Angela continued,”My mother often told me about how my grandfather came to name his sandwich the Submarine.” She remembered the incident very well, as she was 16 years old at the time. She related that “when grandfather went to see the Holland I in 1927, the raised submarine hull that was put on display in Westside Park, he said, ‘It looks like the sandwich I sell at my store.’ From that day on, he called his sandwich the ‘submarine.’ People came from miles around to buy one of my Grandfather’s subs.”

Ooey-Gooey Meatball Submarine Sandwich. Photo by Sarah_Jayne

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly toast rolls.
  2. Sprinkle both cheeses in the bottom of the rolls, holding back about 2 tablespoons for the top of the rolls.
  3. Place the meatballs down the centre of the roll and ladle hot Marinara sauce on top.
  4. Sprinkle a tablespoonful of reserved shredded cheese and the Parmesan cheese over top. Sprinkle some dried oregano and basil the over top.
  5. Put meatball sub in an oven-safe dish and return to oven for a couple of minutes to heat through and melt the cheeses. Cool for a minute before digging in and you may need a large napkin. 

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Genoa Salami

Soppressata

Capacola

Pancetta

Proscuitto

Pepperoni


Zucchini

Bell Pepper

Eggplant

Tomato

Bell Peppers, eggplants, zucchini, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes are the vegetables usually used for stuffing. As I looked through my cookbooks, every one of them has a different version of how to stuff a vegetable.  I am sure that in any culture where there is an abundance of farm raised crops, home cooks try to figure out how to utilize the produce and make dishes that have variety, as well as appeal.

As a child, I remember my mother making stuffed green peppers, regularly, because my father liked them. I wasn’t fond of them and I don’t think my siblings were either. Since I am not overly fond of green bell peppers, that was strike one. They were always made with ground beef, rice and tomato sauce. As an adult my tastes for different vegetables improved and, because my husband would often ask for stuffed peppers, I began experimenting with recipes for different fillings and vegetables that we eventually liked.

I still have my mother’s recipe written down on a recipe file card.  It is fading, but still readable. This was pretty much my mother’s way to make

Stuffed Green Peppers:

  • 6 large green peppers
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 of a small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Directions
Cut off the top of the peppers and remove the seeds and membranes.
Cook peppers in enough boiling water to cover for 5 minutes and then drain.
Cook ground beef, onion, and garlic and then drain off fat.
Stir in rice, salt, and half the tomato sauce.  Heat through.
Stuff each pepper with beef mixture and stand upright in an ungreased square baking dish.
Pour remaining tomato sauce over the tops.
Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees F.  Remove from the oven and uncover dish.
Sprinkle with cheese and bake an additional 15 minutes.
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Stuffed Red Peppers

As in the recipe above, many recipes for stuffed vegetables call for boiling the vegetable before stuffing.  I don’t do this because this step makes the vegetables soggy and they will spend the better part of an hour in the oven. Also, I feel the vegetables lose nutrients when boiled.

The recipes for fillings I am including here can be used in any vegetable of your choice and there are both meat versions and vegetarian versions.

Preparations of the vegetables before stuffing will vary.

Ingredients

  • 6 medium red peppers
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 pounds lean ground turkey breast or lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-8 oz package shredded Italian mixed blended cheeses
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 cup Progresso Italian bread crumbs

Directions

Cut peppers in half lengthwise and discard seeds.

In a large skillet, saute onion in oil until tender.

Add the turkey, Italian seasoning, garlic, salt and pepper; cook and stir over medium heat until meat is no longer pink.

Transfer to a bowl; stir in half the cheese, the chopped tomatoes and bread crumbs. Spoon into pepper halves.

Place in a large baking pan coated with cooking spray.

Bake, uncovered, at 325° F for 40 minutes or until peppers are tender.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Return to the oven and heat, uncovered, until cheese is melted.

 Yield: 6 servings.

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked couscous, farro or barley (This would also be a good place to use leftover risotto.)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup prepared basil pesto 
  • 3 large yellow or orange peppers, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
  • 2 cups homemade tomato sauce 
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves for garnish
Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a casserole dish (with lid or you can use foil) with cooking spray and large enough to accommodate all of the peppers.
Combine the couscous or farro or rice and pesto. Stir together. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt and if needed.
Fill the halved peppers with this mixture, and arrange in the casserole. Pour the tomato sauce over the peppers.
Cover and bake 45 minutes to an hour or until the peppers are soft but still hold their shape.
Remove from the heat, and serve with some of the tomato sauce spooned over the top.
Sprinkle the tops of the peppers with cheese and garnish with basil leaves.
images

Stuffed Zucchini or Eggplant

 Ingredients
4 medium to large zucchini or 2 medium eggplant

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound ground lean turkey or beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 4 ounces of mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 seeded and diced plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 egg, beaten or 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 
Directions

Cut the zucchini or eggplant in half lengthwise. Using a melon baller or small spoon, scoop out the flesh from the inside of the zucchini or eggplant. The shells should be about 1/4 inch thick. Be careful not to pierce the shell. Reserve and dice the flesh that has been scooped out.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the ground meat and sauté until lightly browned, stirring occasionally – about 8  minutes. Remove the meat to a bowl.
Using the same skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add in the chopped mushrooms and reserved chopped zucchini flesh. Sauté until tender – about another 5 minutes. Add the ground meat back into the skillet.
Add the wine and diced tomato. Sauté until tomato is soft and heated through. Stir in the pine nuts. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before adding the egg.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  
When the mixture has cooled, stir in egg or egg substitute, Parmigiano, basil, parsley, salt and pepper. Fill the zucchini or eggplant halves with the mixture.  
Arrange the stuffed zucchini or eggplant in a greased 13x9x2 baking dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.  Pour about 1/4 inch of water in the bottom of the baking dish. Place in the oven.
Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until the filling is golden brown and the vegetables are tender.

Vegetarian stuffed tomatoes or zucchini make excellent side dishes.

images (1)

Stuffed Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 4 large tomatoes – a thin slice cut from the top and the insides scooped out and reserved
  • 1 cup cooked farro or rice or barley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated plus 2 tablespoons for topping
 
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place olive oil, onion and garlic in a large saute pan over medium heat, and saute until onion is soft but not browned – about 5 minutes.
Add tomato insides, parsley, basil, oregano and simmer another few minutes until thoroughly heated – about 2 to 3 minutes.
Add cooked grain of choice and the 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Fill tomatoes with stuffing until overfilled and top with  the additional grated cheese.
Place in  an oiled baking dish, and bake until cheese begins to melt and the filling browns – about 20 minutes.
Garnish with basil leaves.

Spinach Stuffed Zucchini or Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 4 large summer squash or zucchini or 6 medium tomatoes with top cut off and the insides discarded
  • 2 (10 oz) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 oz  low-fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon  pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut squash lengthwise in half  and remove some of the center flesh to make room for the filling and place in a  greased 9 x 13 pan. If using tomatoes, cut off a thin layer from the top and scoop out the insides.
Heat oil and saute onions and garlic over medium heat until soft. Add spinach, cream cheese, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes, stirring until cheese is melted and everything is heated through. Spoon evenly into shells, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.
Bake the squash for 30 minutes and the tomatoes for 20 minutes. Larger squash may take an additional 10 minutes or more. Test the side with a knife to see if tender.


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