I remember distinctly the time I first made these involtini di peperoni ripieni. It was over 15 years ago when I was helping my mum prepare the menu for my brother’s birthday party. Birthdays are always so exciting and I tend to associate them with food preparation, as this is how we often celebrate them in Naples – or at least we used to. A fun night with a luxurious buffet menu of home-made delicacies, and of course plenty of prosecco and wine flowing! What’s not to like?
These involtini di peperoni are easy to make (there is hardly anything that can go wrong… famous last words, I know!) and are definitely more interesting than the better known and equally delicious involtini di melanzane.
When I made these for the first time I wanted to surprise my brother, so I used a heart-shaped oven dish to say: “This is how much I love you.” I guess that this stayed with me: cooking and making special food dishes to say how much I care about the people I cook for.
Makes 16 involtini
- 3 medium-sized peppers (red and yellow)
- 2 slices of bread (without crusts)
- 1 tablespoon of breadcrumbs
- 100ml of milk
- 1 egg
- 50g parmesan or pecorino
- 50g smoked cheese
- A bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- A few basil leaves, finely chopped
- Extra-virgin olive oil, to drizzle
- Breadcrumbs, to sprinkle
- Basil leaves, to decorate
Preheat oven to 240°C (220°C fan).
Clean and dry the peppers. Keep the stalks.
Line an oven dish with foil. Lay peppers on their sides on the foil, stems pointing sideways.
Place the dish in the oven and allow peppers to roast for 20 minutes, until the top skin gets darker and wrinkly. Remove the dish from the oven. Using tongs, give the peppers a half turn, then place back in the oven for another 20 minutes.
Check to make sure peppers have fully roasted. The skin should be charred and soft, and the peppers should look slightly collapsed. If they don’t look ready, let them roast for a few more minutes. When they’re done, remove the dish from the oven.
Let the peppers cool down.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Soak the slices of bread in some milk and drain the excess. In a bowl, add the bread, the breadcrumbs, the egg, the parmesan, the cheese, the salt and pepper, and the chopped parsley and basil. Mix well with a fork until it becomes a well-compacted filling. It should not be runny. If it is, add some extra breadcrumbs.
Now the peppers have cooled down, take the skin off. It should come off easily, but make sure you don’t break the peppers. Cut them in half and remove the seeds. Cut 16 slices and lay on a plate (the length is necessarily dictated by the size of the peppers).
Add a teaspoon of filling in the middle of each slice and roll it up.
On a baking tray lined with oven paper drizzle some oil, place the involtini close to each other, add some more olive oil and sprinkle some breadcrumbs over the top. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes at 220°C (200°C fan), until the filling gets melty and the breadcrumbs look slightly crispy.
Take the dish out of the oven and let it cool. You can serve the involtini di peperoni ripieni directly from the oven dish if it looks cute, or move them to a serving dish. Place on the buffet table with a supply of cocktail sticks. The involtini are good either warm or cold.
Alternatively, involtini di peperoni ripieni are perfect as a starter, served with some rocket salad and toasted bread.