Having just moved and unpacked the kitchen (finally), my husband and I wanted to celebrate with a somewhat fancy meal. Or, at least as fancy as our remaining 32 boxes of various files, vases, and odd-man-out blankets would allow.
In my book, "fancy" connotes "multiple courses" and/or "something with gold leaf." Since I have no idea where to buy the latter in my new neighborhood—or anywhere, really—we opted for the former. This meant a prepared appetizer, a main course of leftover pizza, and a commemorative beer to punctuate the merriment.
Subsequently, we baptized our new stove with this, Lidia Bastianich's Roasted Pepper Halves with Bread Crumb Topping, from Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen. It's simple to prepare, yet impressive enough to elevate the most pedestrian of meals, up to and including a cold slice of pepperoni pie.
The peppers act as both flavoring agent and serving vessel, making it lighter than most breaded hors d'oeuvres. The Parmesan adds a savoriness, while the red pepper flakes provide the heat. Steaming it in chicken broth makes everything didn't-need-a-knife tender.
To make the dish lighter, divide the peppers into thirds or reduce the breadcrumb topping by 33 percent. The prescribed quantities make quite a lot, so no one will miss the extra.
Here's to new homes and fancy-but-not-complicated appetizers. So far, so good.
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 red or yellow bell peppers
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup fine, dry bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- 3 tablespoons parsley, chopped and divided
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375ºF. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the bottom of a 9x13 glass baking dish. Halve peppers lengthwise. Remove stems, seeds, cores, and ribs. Place in baking dish cut-side-up and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with salt.
In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, 2 tablespoons parsley, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Fill peppers evenly with crumb mixture. Pour chicken broth in bottom of dish and cover tightly with tin foil. Bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake until peppers are completely tender, about 10 minutes longer.
When time is up and peppers are tender, remove from oven. Move peppers to serving plate and spoon juices on top. Top with remaining 1 tablespoon parsley. Serve.