Aug 28, 2015
T.J. Kirkpatrick for The Washington Post
Here's a dish with the heady flavors and fragrance of the South of France, where baked, stuffed vegetables -- "petits farcis" -- are a specialty. Select nicely ripe tomatoes, and keep color in mind: If your bell peppers are red, use yellow tomatoes, and vice versa.
Don't let the anchovy content scare you: You won't even know they are in there. But if you must skip them, substitute an extra spoonful of oil and a little more salt.
The garlic in the bottom of the pan will get very dark. If you'd like, you can tuck the slices under the stuffed peppers at the start.
Tested size: 6 servings
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for optional garnish
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and very thinly sliced
- About 8 sprigs thyme, rosemary and/or flat-leaf parsley
- 6 leaves fresh basil, torn
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 5 tablespoons plain dried bread crumbs
- 8 oil-packed anchovies, minced
- 3 large, boxy bell peppers, preferably red and/or yellow
- 1 small lemon
- Pinch piment d’Espelette or ground cayenne pepper
- About 2 1/3 cups (1 pint) cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- Ricotta cheese, for serving (optional)
- Snipped chives, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a 9- or 10-inch deep-dish pie pan (or similar-size baking dish) on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, parchment paper or a silicone liner. Spread a tablespoon of the oil over the bottom and sides of the pan, scatter over the slices of garlic, half the sprigs of herbs and half the torn basil, then season lightly with salt and pepper.
Stir together the bread crumbs and minced anchovies in a medium bowl. Grate the zest of the lemon over the bowl. Cut the lemon in half; squeeze about 1 tablespoon of the juice (from one half of the fruit) into the mixture. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and the piment d'espelette or cayenne pepper; stir to mix well. Taste the mixture, and add salt and/or pepper as needed.
Cut the remaining lemon half into 6 thin slices.
Trim a bit off the end of each pepper's stem, leaving the rest of the stem, the cap and the pepper intact. Cut the peppers in half from top to bottom; discard the ribs and seeds. Spoon an equal amount of the bread crumb mixture into each pepper half and top with the remaining torn basil. Divide the tomato halves among the peppers, placing them cut side down and as close together as you can. Arrange the peppers in the pie pan, crowding them together so they all fit. One or two might pop up or their bottoms might not fully touch the base of the pan, but in the end each pepper will be fine. Tuck the lemon slices in and among the peppers or just underneath them. Drizzle over the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil and strew the remaining herb sprigs over the dish.
Roast the stuffed peppers (middle rack) for 45 minutes – you can baste them with pan juices if you’d like, but they’ll be moist even if you don’t – or until you can pierce the tomatoes and peppers easily with the tip of a knife. The juices and oil will be bubbling and the peppers will be charred. Remove and discard the herbs from the tops of the peppers.
You can serve the peppers straight from the oven, warm or at room temperature. Drizzle them with the pan juices or more oil, if you'd like, top them with an optional spoonful of ricotta (this is particularly nice if you’re serving the dish warm, as a starter) and optional sprinkle of chives.
From cookbook author Dorie Greenspan.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.