This is a recipe that is very easy to make, and everyone likes it hot or cold. If you have lots of peppers from your garden it will serve you well. You might want to double the recipe if you have more than three or four to feed.
Four large red, or red and yellow, bell peppers. Red is best, and never green!
One can of oil-packed tuna, such as Genova brand. It is the closest to Italian tuna, flavorful and packed in olive oil. ( Never NEVER use water-packed tuna for this! I can’t say enough derogotory things about water-packed tuna. Yuck.)
Anchovy paste, fresh bread crumbs, garlic cloves, salt-cured capers, grana padano, and black pepper.
Wash and slice the peppers into two-inch strips lengthwise. Heat some olive oil in a large pan and saute the strips over medium heat until softened and a little browned in places, as this adds flavor. Salt them generously. Move the strips as they are ready to a flat oven dish and arrange to cover the bottom of the pan, and include the oil from the pan.
Make about two cups of bread crumbs from stale bread. Please don’t use store-bought crumbs, they are way too dry and don’t really work here. A food processor can make crumbs from even fresh bread, and if you want to add other bready things like crackers or crostini to the mix, then feel free. To my mind, tweaking is the soul of good cooking!
Add a cup of grated grana padano to the crumbs. Mix in two minced garlic cloves and a couple of teaspoons of anchovy paste. I often mix this with the tuna first to assure that it is evenly distributed.
Add the can of tuna. ( Undrained, I know, but this is how it is done. This is a high-flavor recipe so one can compensate by consuming less volume!)
Here is a problem: You need to find salt-cured capers. I am guessing that in these times of boutique shopping it won’t be impossible, especially if you have an Italian market nearby. I found some on Amazon. I have never made this recipe with pickled capers, and I would advise that if you can’t find salt-cured ones just leave them out entirely. The taste of pickled capers is just wrong. Compensate by adding more anchovy paste!
Rinse about a tablespoonful of capers and chop them finely, adding them to the mix.
Add a very generous grating of fresh pepper. Mix these ingredients together well and spread over the peppers in the pan. Remember these are not “stuffed” peppers, and the layer of breadcrumbs should not be very thick. It is a condiment for the peppers.
Bake in medium oven, uncovered, for as long as it takes to slightly brown the top and heat them through, about twenty minutes.
At room temperature, served with crusty bread and fruit, this is the perfect summer dish. Enjoy!
“Temporale a Pisticci” oil on canvas