I adore appetizers. Left to my own devices, I would rather eat appetizers for dinner than have a proper entree. I just love the fact that you can have a whole lot of different flavours in one meal if you eat little bite-sized bits. I used to host “appetizer” parties, and could practically make myself sick tasting and nibbling the whole night through. In a tapas restaurant, I am in heaven. And my husband and I regularly have what we call “antipasto meals, where we gather a collection of meats, cheeses, olives, pickles and spreads and just nibble our way through the evening. Those antipasto meals used to feature bread, but we’ve done away with that part. And you know what? You can fit way more meats and cheeses and other bites in if you skip the bread!
One of our local grocery stores has a lovely selection of marinated olives and vegetables, and I’ve fallen hard and fast for the stuffed cherry peppers. Really, how can you go wrong? A spicy little pepper stuffed with cured meat and sharp Italian cheese? Bring it! I could make a meal on those alone, except for the fact that we usually have 8 other nibbly bits and I have to taste everything at least once. Or twice. Or three times.
It probably never would have occurred to me to make them myself, if I hadn’t accidentally bought hot cherry peppers at our farmer’s market. I say accidentally, which makes me sound like way more of a space cadet than I really am. I bought the little round peppers because they were adorable and I love getting new things at the farmer’s market. But they weren’t marked as hot peppers and in their fresh version, I didn’t connect them with the preserved, marinated version that I buy at the grocery store. I was chopping them up for dinner when I happened to lick my finger and WOW. Okay, that is spicy stuff. My kids are so not going to eat those in their salad!
So, I happened to have a bag of hot cherry peppers. What to do, what to do? Kind of a no-brainer, right? A search on Google elicited a few good recipes, and I took the best of them to make my own version. And they rocked. They take a couple of weeks to marinate properly, but once they were ready, we celebrated by having an antipasto meal. Mmmmmm.
- 12 to 14 medium cherry peppers
- 2 to 3 cups white vinegar
- 6 or 7 slices proscuitto
- 4 oz provolone cubed into ½ inch pieces
- 4 cloves garlic coarsely chopped
- two sprigs rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 quart olive oil preferably extra virgin
- Cut the tops off the cherry peppers and remove seeds.
- Place hollowed-out peppers in a quart jar and add enough vinegar to cover completely. Put lid on jar and set on your counter for at least one week.
- After one week, drain peppers.
- Cut prosciutto slices in half and wrap each piece around a piece of cheese. Stuff each cherry pepper with prosciutto-wrapped cheese.
- Place stuffed peppers back in jar, add garlic, rosemary and bay leaf. Pour enough olive oil into jar to cover cherry peppers completely.
- Put lid on jar and place back on counter for at least a week. Enjoy!
- And don't throw that oil away, it makes a great, lightly seasoned oil for cooking.