The cool weather is here (in Canada for awhile) and the shift to heartier dishes and spicier dishes has been made. Although I like to eat spicy and hot dishes all year ’round, Autumn/Winter is ideal for eating hot peppers. I was brought-up in a household that always had peppers in the fridge, we pickled peppers, dried them or added them into many dishes (where others wouldn’t).
You see, both my parents are from the Florina region of Greece (90 minutes NW of Thessaloniki) and the folks here just love their peppers and yes hot peppers. I haven’t posted a dish in awhile that is intentionally hot and this is the answer to those looking for some heat. This is a meze/appetizer dish that’s easy to prepare, the ingredients won’t set you back and it’s a wonderful offering alongside some Keftedes or Bifteki or some grilled pork. Good crusty bread for dipping, swiping and dunking is a must here!
What’s really cool about this recipe is the method I’ve chosen here to stuff the peppers: I briefly blanche the peppers to soften them so that they are easy to stuff. I’ve chosen tomatoes and Feta cheese to stuff the peppers with – a classic combo and finished with sea salt, Greek olive oil and dried Greek oregano. The Feta, the tomato, the flavour of the peppers are all concentrated as I bake this delicious meze in the oven. You could cover and simmer these on your stovetop but you won’t get the same effect.
Choose ripe tomatoes, good Feta like Epiros (Greek of course) available at Costco in Canada, ripe hot banana peppers and extra-virgin Greek olive oil. Kali Orexi – Bon Apetit!
(appetizer for 4-6)
6-8 hot banana peppers (or sweet peppers)
3 large ripe tomatoes
approx. 10-11 sticks of Feta cheese
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
Pre-heated 400F oven
- Place a medium pot of water on your stovetop and bring to a boil. Add some salt and when the water returns to a boil, add the peppers and simmer for 5-6 minutes then remove with a slotted spoon and run under cold water until just cooled. Your peppers are now soft and pliable and easy to fill.
- Remove the stems from your tomatoes and cut in half then gently squeeze out the seeds and discard. Cut strips of tomato from each of the halves and set aside. Now cut some batons (sticks) of Feta cheese about 1 cm. in thickness.
- Pat the peppers dry and place on your work surface and slice open the tops of your peppers (lengthwise) and carefully remove seeds (optional). Insert enough Feta cheese into the opening of each pepper to line the entire length of the pepper. Now slide strips of tomato along the Feta and try and enclose the filling as much as possible.
- Place the peppers in a small baking dish that will tightly hold the peppers. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and dried oregano and cover will foil and place in your pre-heated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and baking uncovered for another 5 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Drizzle with more olive oil (optional) and serve hot with good crusty bread and Ouzo or Tsipouro.
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