Capsicums, bell peppers, pimientos all mean the same, depending upon which part of the world you hail from. My mother always called them "peppers", and grew the common green bell pepper every summer. I often wondered why they were called that, because they weren't hot at all. But as they are closely related to the chilli, something I'd never even tasted as a child, the penny finally dropped. Our ignorance of other cultures cuisine in those times has thankfully now gone.
The amazing varieties that are available today is a far cry from the days of just green peppers. Now we can enjoy all different colours, shapes, sizes and variations of flavours.
Developed in Japan , these little capsicums measure 8cm in diameter and 3-4cm deep. They are ideal for stuffing, so let your imagination run wild. Unfortunately they have a high seed content, so if you opt to char the skins whilst the capsicums are whole, as I foolishly did, be prepared for a fiddly seed removal, as the fruit (yes, capsicums are a fruit) loses it's rigidity, and tears very easily. You could remove the seeds first, then blacken the skins, a method that I will definitely try next time.
The red capsicums are sweeter than the green, due to the higher sugar content. They are full of vitamin C and beta carotene, a form of Vitamin A, and gives the fruit it's beautiful red colour.
After a day of visiting wineries, a cheese factory, and 2 olive groves, an antipasto platter was the order for dinner. Along with that, I baked a prosciutto loaf of bread to have with these Stuffed Baby Capsicums.
8 baby capsicums
2 small shallots, finely diced
I small italian sausage, skin removed
2 cloves garlic
(I opted for fresh from the garden choosing oregano, parsley and basil)
I cup of grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Chargrill or roast the baby capsicums lightly sprayed with extra virgin olive oil (or deseed first) until skins are blackened. Place in a freezer bag for a few minutes, to enable easier removal of the skins.
Gently fry the shallots, garlic and sausage in olive oil. If using dried italian herbs, they can go into the pan at this stage. Fry until the onions have softened.
Remove to a bowl and add cheeses to the hot onion mixture. If using fresh herbs, add these now.
Peel and deseed the capsicums. Be gentle here as they are soft and hard to handle.
Place in a gratin dish or small baking pan, and fill the hollowed capsicums with the stuffing mixture.
Bake in oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
Serve as a side for main meals or as part of an antipasto platter.
Fellow Aussie, Truffle, from What's on my Plate is the host of Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging
an event I try not to miss each week.