Until fairly recently, stuffed vegetables seemed rather old-fashioned, yet I have always loved stuffing an aubergine, pepper or courgette half. The beautifully defined shapes look so great on a plate and it’s easy to mess them up a bit, taking them away from the prescribed neatness of 80s nouvelle cuisine. Mexico is awash with delectable variations of stuffed chillies, and these peppers are inspired by dishes I’ve had over there.
A warm potato salad with piquant olives, capers and hints of pickled chilli make a delicious filling for sweet red peppers.
Prep 20 min
Cook 1 hr
5 romano peppers, halved and deseeded
120ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
Salt and pepper
3 banana shallots, peeled and chopped
3 large garlic cloves, peeled, 2 finely chopped
1 handful each oregano and tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
1 large bunch parsley
10-12 green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
3 tbsp capers, roughly chopped
100g soft goat’s cheese
2-3 pickled chillies, chopped
Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Scrub the potatoes clean, cut into chunks and steam for about 20 minutes, until tender. Leave to dry.
Meanwhile, lay out eight pepper halves on a lined baking tray, drizzle with a tablespoon of the oil, season and roast for 15-20 minutes, until tender but still holding their shape. Cut the two remaining pepper halves into small dice.
Warm two tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over a medium heat add the shallots, diced peppers and chopped garlic, season and fryfor six to eight minutes, until soft. Add the potatoes, a third of the herbs, the olives, half the capers, the lemon zest and a tablespoon of lemon juice, then cook, stirring and breaking up the potatoes as you go, for another few minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Stuff the peppers with the potato mix, top with the goat’s cheese and drizzle with a little extra oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the potatoes are coloured. While they are cooking, blitz the remaining herbs, garlic clove, olive oil, capers, lemon juice and one of the chillies. Taste and add more chilli to taste, bearing in mind that the heat dies down when eaten with other food.
Serve the peppers drizzled with the green sauce. A crisp, green salad would be a great accompaniment, as would garlic-braised spinach.
Turn the stuffing into a delicious, summery potato salad by dressing it with good olive oil and the green sauce – the capers, olives and chillies lend tart and savoury notes to the potatoes.