Jimmy Nardello Sweet Stuffed Pepper
by Laura Frerichs, Tastemaker in Residence
Jimmy Nardello Italian Sweet Frying Peppers are an heirloom variety originally from the Basilicata region of southern Italy. Giuseppe Nardello and his wife brought them from Italy to Connecticut in 1887, and their son, Jimmy Nardello, continued to grow the peppers until his death in 1980. Now listed as an endangered taste by Slow Food USA, the peppers are considered to be one of the best sweet frying peppers and have a light, fruity taste if eaten raw. They look like a cayenne pepper, but are not at all hot. They are one of our favorite sweet peppers. We get the seeds for this pepper from Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, IA: www.seedsavers.org.
8 Jimmy Nardello Italian Sweet Peppers (4 straighter ones for stuffing, 4 for filling)
2 large Cippolini onions, finely diced
1 large Fennel bulbs and stems, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, finely diced
1⁄2 pint of yellow cherry tomatoes, Sungolds or Yellow Reisentraube halved
1⁄4 cup chopped herbs: Basil, Curly and Italian Parsley, Thyme leaves
1 Jalapeño pepper, finely diced
2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil
6 oz. goat.s milk Feta cheese (or regular feta), diced
1 tsp lemon juice
Pick four of the straightest and largest Jimmy Nardellos for stuffing. Cut top end off of peppers for stuffing and slice lengthwise down one side of pepper so that you can remove seeds and ribs from inside of pepper. Brush inside and outside of peppers with olive oil. Place in baking dish, cover with foil, and bake at 350° for around 15 minutes until slightly soft.
While peppers are baking, chop the onions and sauté in olive oil for 5 minutes. De-core and chop sweet peppers, jalapeño, fennel bulb and stems, garlic and fresh herbs. Add to onions with pinch of salt. Sauté together for 5 minutes, add tomatoes and sauté for another few minutes. Remove from heat and add diced feta and lemon juice; mix thoroughly. Add salt to taste, if necessary.
Spoon mixture into baked peppers and place stuffed peppers next to each other in baking dish, spoon extra mixture on top of peppers and bake for an additional 10 minutes.