It’s unofficially pepper month in my kitchen. After I roasted them over an open flame, the follow-up seemed obvious: baked. Baking a pepper opens up the sweetness and aroma, but without altering the taste. And stuffing a juicy red pepper with a cheesy, spicy concoction is my idea of a good time.
Even so, I can’t decide whether the peppers or onions taste better in this recipe. The onion is definitely the milder of the two, but there is something really satisfying about eating an Alium like a piece of roasted fruit. Generally these go down in a matter of bites. The key to this recipe is making sure the stuffing is cheesy and wet enough that it doesn’t burn or dry out, but not so wet that you miss the crispiness that forms on the top.
2 red bell peppers, washed, cut lengthwise, and cored
1 Vidalia onion, peeled and cut crosswise
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 cup sharp cheddar, grated
1 tablespoon thyme, minced
1 tablespoon rosemary, minced
1 cup bread crumbs*
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Extra virgin olive oil.
Make sure your rack is in the middle, and set the oven to 400. Bring a pot to boil. Blanche the onion in the water for 2 minutes. Strain. Once cool enough to touch, remove all but the outer three layers. Dice the remaining onion, and patch any holes in the outer shell with a piece of diced onion. Assemble the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl, but reserve a small amount of cheddar. Salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the pepper and onion halves on a cookie sheet. Stuff each up to the top. Drizzle olive oil over each one. Top with the remaining cheddar. Place in the oven to bake for 45 minutes. Serve immediately.
* If you’re making the bread crumbs from scratch, you need a good day old hand-formed bread. Set the oven to 300. Rip up the bread into 1-2 inch sizable chunks, and throw away any large crust. Place the crumbs in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove and transfer to the food processor. Pulse until at breadcrumb size.