Caponata Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers
Makes about 2 dozen | Start to finish: 1 hour, 15 min
This makes a great small-plate appetizer or a first course. If you have larger peppers in your garden, this can be made into a main course, paired with a soup or salad. The caponata filling freezes well, so it’s worth the effort even if you are making only half the quantity of peppers.
Caponata filling: (makes 2 cups)
1 large red onion, small dice (2 cups)
1 small eggplant, small dice (2 cups)
1 large zucchini, small dice (2 cups)
1 large red bell pepper, small dice (1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup rice bran oil or alternative high-heat cooking oil
fine sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup raisins, soaked in
1/4 cup dry sherry, overnight, or minimum
2 hours, drained
1/4 cup pitted green olives, chopped
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
2 tablespoons small capers, drained and rinsed
2 dozen mini bell peppers, halved lengthwise, seeds removed caponata filling
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese, to garnish
Position an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 375°F.
For the caponata: In a large bowl, combine the red onion, eggplant, zucchini, and red bell pepper with the rice bran oil or alternative high-heat cooking oil to coat. Season lightly with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Spread out in one even layer on a large, unlined baking pan and roast until light brown and tender, about 45 minutes. Halfway through baking, turn vegetables with a spatula and rotate the pan for even baking. Remove pan from the oven and cool completely.
Once cooled, combine the roasted vegetables with the raisins, olives, and capers. Season to taste with sea salt and ground black pepper. This can be made several days in advance for flavors to develop. Refrigerate caponata until ready to use.
To assemble the peppers: Arrange the halved peppers in a baking dish cut side up. Stuff each pepper generously with the caponata filling. Any unused caponata filling can be refrigerated or frozen for later use. Bake in the center of the oven for approximately 25 minutes or until filling is heated through and peppers are tender.
Serve baked peppers topped with feta cheese.