Jan 182013

I am of the belief that almost all foods are better in mini forms.  Sliders, tiny cupcakes (or basically anything baked in a mini muffin tin), donut holes, anything you can call a “shooter”.  I love it all.  There’s something so great about a perfect little bite, so when I stumbled across this recipe for Baby Stuffed Peppers I knew it was right up my alley.  Also, Giada has never done me wrong in the past. And these were definitely cute and little but still big on flavor.  

This recipe is so versatile and you can swap almost any filling ingredients you like, but I just followed the recipe as is this time for lack of creative inspiration.  I loved the combination of the sharp parmesan with the creamy pancetta, the sweet peas with the smokey pancetta. The only time consuming part of this recipe, really, was cleaning the peppers.  I have some pretty small hands, but even I struggled to pick out some of those tiny seeds.  But once you clean the peppers and mix up the filling, all you do is stuff, bake, and serve.  For baking ease, I stood them up in a mini muffin tin so the filling wouldn’t spill out.  This would be perfect as an app for any party, but I especially liked it as an upscale football nibble…the grown up mozzarella stick, if you will.

Nutritional Highlights:  You know that sweet peppers, big or small, are good for you just by looking at the bright colors.  They are a big source of carotenoids and Vitamin C.  In this recipe the peppers are only cooked for a short amount of time, to preserve as much of those good nutrients as possible.  I can’t say the filling here is super healthy…peas, onions, and ricotta are not so bad, but parmesan and pancetta are not the best in terms of fat and cholesterol.   But, these ingredients pack a big flavor punch so a little can go a long way.  Plus, these are so mini that each one only holds a few teaspoons of filling.  You can also easily make these vegetarian by leaving out the pancetta and adding other flavorful ingredients like garlic or mushrooms. 

baby stuffed peppers with ricotta, peas, & pancetta
adapted from Giada on the Food Network

  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup frozen petite peas, thawed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • optional:  additional spices- I used red pepper flakes and garlic powder
  • 24 (2 to 3-inch long) sweet baby peppers
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet or mini muffin tin with vegetable oil cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until brown and crispy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta and drain on paper towels. Add the onion to the pan and cook until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the onion, pancetta, cheeses, and peas. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Using a paring knife, cut 1/2-inch from the stem-end of the peppers. Remove the seeds and veins. Using a small dessert spoon, fill each pepper with the ricotta mixture. Place the filled peppers on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until the peppers begin to soften. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.

Arrange the peppers on a platter, serve, and enjoy!

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