Here’s another summer re-run – just in case you’re in need of a tasty munchie next week some time and don’t want to visit the archive to find this, the first recipe on this blog – cherry peppers stuffed with provolone and pepperoni allowed to sit in oil and spices for a week.
I usually keep ‘em in a big mason jar, but left that up at Norma’s last week. As it happens, a vase or a pitcher will work as well, I just wouldn’t serve them this way (I tried it once) – looks gorgeous; but once folks have had a pepper, digging deep into the jar for them is not a good thing. Much better, I think, to offer them in a bowl with some nice bread for sopping up the oil.
A container of these in the fridge, and a stash of Cheesy Olive Bombs in the freezer means you are at most 30 minutes from offering folks a little something different from veggies or chips and dip when they drop in.
We start with a jar (or two) of Mezzetta Sweet Cherry Peppers. There is also a hot version of these peppers available that isn’t really all that hot, so if you’re feeling adventuresome, go for it. Some of our local markets carry these in their ‘Italian’ foods section, not by the pickles, so look there first before you resort to buying at a deli or specialty shop – where you’ll pay at least $1 more per jar. Better to use your deli $$ where they really count – buying a really nice, slightly stinky provolone – Tenuta’s, our local Italian deli of choice, has a huge assortment of provolone, and I just go through the case sniffing the packages until I find something I like.
•Jarred cherry peppers – one jar will give you enough peppers to fill a quart sized mason jar – which is a dead handy container to have on hand. The vase in the photo above took two jars of peppers
•Pepperoni slices – I like to quarter some slices for small peppers and halve some for larger
•1/2 lb provolone cheese – cut into cubes
•Extra virgin olive oil and canola oil – mix these together half and half. Do NOT think you’re making it all better by using all olive oil – it will turn into a solid chunk o’ something in the fridge – NOT a good thing
•1 onion, thinly sliced
•Rosemary, basil, etc. – I use Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute, add some additional dried basil, and a sprinkle or three of crushed red pepper
•Parmesan or Romano cheese
Drain peppers, slit and remove seeds and any big bit of membrane with your finger
Cut provolone to the appropriate size to fill the peppers – I think cubes of varied sizes works nicely
Cut some of the pepperoni slices in half, others in quarters
Place a bit of pepperoni in each side of the peppers, then a piece of the provolone. I find the quarter slices work better with the small peppers, the halves (obviously) with the larger. Some peppers will stay ‘closed’ just by pressing them together, if some are a bit loose, spear through pepper, pepperoni and cheese with a wooden toothpick
Place the peppers in your container; layering with the onion, garlic, bay leaves and other herbs
Pour your half and half mixture of olive and canola oil over the pepper mixture to cover – this tall vase with two jars of peppers took about 3-1/2 cup of oil in all. Top it all off with a coating of Parmesan or Romano cheese – I like to use fresh shaved bits – this is some Pecorino we had in the cheese bin. Push the cheese down a bit so it’s covered by the oil. Cover (you can use plastic wrap if your container doesn’t have a lid) and let soak at least one week in the fridge.
This will keep for a while – I like to go by the ‘use by’ date on the pepperoni package – which, in this case is mid November. This batch will be happy memories in people’s bellies long before then…