Pepperoncini were one of our first summer crops to arrive after the late May fava craze when I was working on Casa L Orto's terraced farms in southern Italy. This recipe is a local classic, stuffed with fresh anchovies (of which there were many in Praiano) mozzarella, and fisherman's bread (a dried bread used in lots of southern Italian recipes). It's perfect as an appetizer for crowds, as delicious straight out of the oven as it is at room temperature with a glass of Prosecco. —Hallie Meyer
about 30 pepperoncini (or any small fresh pepper) or 10 bell peppers
fisherman's bread (or dried stale bread, crumbled into pieces)
extra-virgin olive oil, divided
anchovy fillets, finely chopped
handful torn basil leaves
cubed fresh mozzarella
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 375° F. Using a paring knife, make slits in the peppers and remove any excess white pith and seeds (though a small amount won't hurt the final product). Arrange peppers on baking sheets, set aside. Place fisherman's bread (or stale bread pieces, if using) in a small bowl and soak in water and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Let stand.
Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta and onions, and cook until onions are soft and translucent and pancetta just begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Add anchovies and stir, cooking 1 minute more. Add soaked fisherman's bread (leaving behind any unabsorbed water), torn basil leaves, and salt and pepper to taste, and mix till combined. Remove from heat and mix in cubed mozzarella.
Spoon tablespoons of stuffing into pepperoncini. Drizzle pepperoncini with the last tablespoon of olive oil, and bake, turning halfway through, for 30 to 40 minutes, or until stuffing is browned and cheese is melted.