Smoked cheeses add great depth of flavor to any dish. Here, colorful peppers are sliced, brushed with olive oil and garlic, then topped with smoked cheese and grilled. The sweet, warm peppers, which remain slightly crisp and crunchy, are then topped with pungent anchovy fillets. Serve these as a side dish or appetizer, right from the grill.
This recipe is an adaptation of one found throughout Italy, known as "Peperoni Arrosto con Acciughe"—roasted peppers with anchovies. Almost every trattoria along the coast serves some version of it with slabs of local bread and sometimes olives and capers.
Here, we save time by not roasting and peeling the peppers in advance: the flavor sensations are just as intense with this method, and in some ways, I like the mild crunchiness better than the limp texture of traditional roasted peppers. Ideal for summer, this recipe uses less oil than the standard one, in which the peppers are bathed in a plate of oil and pepper juices.
Try placing different flavors in these pepper-boats. For those who do not like anchovies, use basil and tomato. Capers, fresh herbs and green onions all add their own gustatory accents. You can even experiment with smoked pecans, hazelnuts (using hazelnut oil instead of olive oil) and pine nut pesto. Of course, any good melting cheese can be substituted as well. A sharp Monterey Jack goes great with grilled chicken and summer barbecues, while goat cheese creates a different tangy effect which profits from oil-cured sun dried tomatoes.
3 to 4 medium bell peppers; mixed red, orange and/or yellow
extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
fresh cracked pepper
1/2 pound smoked cheese (mozzarella, provolone, or Gouda) thinly sliced
1 can anchovy fillets in oil (or 2, depending on your tastes)
Italian parsley for garnish
Prepare the grill.
Cut the peppers lengthwise into 3 or 4 large pieces, but pay attention to how you cut them: all peppers are shaped differently, and the goal is to end up with large, concave or boat-shaped pieces that can hold other ingredients. Discard the core and seeds. Brush the olive oil on both sides of the peppers, rub some garlic on the inside surface and crack some fresh pepper on them. Place slices of cheese on the inside of the peppers, trimming to fit. Place the peppers on the grill, skin side down. Cover the grill with a lid or tent the peppers with foil to hold in the heat. Grill over medium heat 5 minutes, or until the peppers are cooked but still firm, and the cheese is softly melted. Remove to a serving platter. Add 1 or 2 anchovy fillets on top of the melted cheese and garnish with parsley leaves. Serve warm.
© 1998, Katherine Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
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