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Stuffed green peppers from the South of Italy

There are rules in my family, rules that must be followed if you don’t want to be banned from the kitchen: bell peppers have to be stuffed with rice. When you come to small green peppers, though, the story is totally different! This is a recipe that comes from the South of Italy, from my father’s branch of family, from Melfi (PZ).

The recipe belongs to my Aunt Patrizia (known as zizi), my granddad’s sister. When Aunt Teresa and Uncle Cesare go to Melfi to visit her, she knows that, as soon as they pass Rome, everything they expect and foretaste are these stuffed green peppers. Zia Patrizia makes the stuffed green peppers the day before, because if you give them a little while to rest, they are still better and gain a deeper flavour.

Stuffed green peppers


These peppers come in the late summer and are wisely filled with leftovers, with what is left in the house after the heath of the summer months. The poor version is made only with stale bread, capers and some anchovy fillets, nothing more. With the passing of time the technique has been refined and you end up putting into the stuffing tuna, some pickles and a generous handful of green and black olives.

The importance of bread. As you can see, breadcrumbs are the most important ingredient in your shopping list, but I’m not talking about the classic breadcrumbs you can buy in a bag, with a sandy texture and a sawdust after-taste. I mean a bowl of fragrant breadcrumbs made in the moment, something that you can store for months in the refrigerator in an airtight jar.

As it happens in many families, you can have leftover bread: do not throw it away, but grate your home bread or blend it into a liquidizer until you get a rustic crumbly texture. It is a breadcrumbs that brings its origins intertwined into its flavourful crumbs: the breadcrumbs made from the South Italy bread will be darker and tasty, the one made from Tuscan bread will be sciocco, without salt. Yes, even Dante Alighieri, the most renowned Tuscan poet, pointed this out:

Tu proverai sì come sa di sale lo pane altrui
Thou shalt have proof how savoureth of salt The bread of others

Stuffed green peppers

Breadcrumbs stuffed green peppers

Giulia Scarpaleggia
3.50 from 2 votes
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Servings 4


  • about 20green peppers, small and thin
  • 400 g of breadcrumbs
  • about 150 g of tuna, in oil or natural
  • 5 or 6 anchovies, chopped in small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon of pickled capers
  • 2 tablespoons of black or green olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1 ripe tomato, cut into small pieces
  • some pickles
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt)
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  • Gently wash and dry the green peppers, remove the stem and the seeds with a sharp knife.
  • In a large bowl combine with your hands the breadcrumbs, the tuna, the chopped anchovies, the chopped olives, a generous handful of chopped pickles, the diced tomato and its juice. If your bread is without salt, just like the Tuscan bread, add a pinch of salt to taste. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 180°C.
  • Fill the peppers with the help of a spoon and arrange them in a baking tin greased with extra virgin olive oil. Drizzle the green peppers with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden: the peppers should be well roasted and golden brown in some points. A tempting smell will tell you that they are ready.
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Are you curious to know something more about the cooking of Lucania, this tiny region in the South of Italy? Here you can find a couple of suggestions:

  • rich lasagna from the South of Italy, the festive dish. When my big and loud family gathers for special occasions, this baked lasagna with all you can imagine inside can’t be missed!
  • Oriental style peppers, a colourful side dish, a tempting appetizer, a break in the afternoon with some crusty bread… choose your moment, you’ll love them!

Stuffed green peppers

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This Post Has 37 Comments

  1. This is a really interesting dish! I have never tried peppers stuffed this way. Here we stuff it with ground meat and rice, and cook in a potato soup. I really like this Italian version, actually, it looks and sounds more appealing that the one we make. I will definitely keep this recipe.

    1. it is so interesting!! I’ve never heard of stuffed peppers cooked in a potato soup… we need to exchange the recipe!

  2. Wow – I bet this is absolutely amazing! Good bread crumbs, flavored like you did and stuffed in peppers has got to be SO delicious!

  3. Beautiful recipe…and you absolutely can’t beat homemade breadcrumbs. Especially if using a delicious stale Tuscan loaf. Wish I could get them in London – have tried making but nothing beats the real deal!

  4. Your stuffing is very unique…I really loved stuffed peppers. It is one of those things that you can really do almost anything with. Any kind of pepper any kind of stuffing. Yours look great!

  5. I love bell peppers .. and I too like to stuff these with different things. Yours sound so amazing and this recipe is making me drool!

    1. you’re right! I’ve never thought at this as a comfort recipe, but it is, actually! it reconnect you with your origins!

  6. I have to agree with your Zia Patrizia that stuffed peppers do taste much better after a day..I love your recipe, mostly I stuff it with rice and lean ground beef. I love your photos too!

  7. My neighbour just gave me a bag full of these peppers (I live in Andalucia) as well as some aubergines, I ‘m definitely going to try this and the oriental style peppers you suggested too! Glad to have found you congrats on top 9!!

    1. you’re a lucky girl! How wonderful Andalucia! it’s one of the place I really really want to visit soon! just visited your blog, it has just become one of my favourite!

  8. Hi Jul

    here in Southern New England Summer has been unusually hot, and our farm produced lots of wonderful peppers.

    With the last of the crop I tried your recipe–I even baked a loaf of buttermilk-spelt bread specifically for this purpose.

    These were absolutely positively the best stuffed peppers we ever tasted–thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

    1. Dear Ela, your comment was really so incredibly exciting! It’s incredible: a typical recipe from a tiny region in the South of Italy was made with so much love and care in Southern New England… that’s the power of internet and foodblog! I so admire you for making a loaf of buttermilk-spelt bread… I need to improve my techniques in baking, really, it’s one of my weakness.. maybe we could exchange some recipes! have a wonderful week Ela!

  9. Hello Juls,

    Well thank you for posting this wonderful recipe, I can’t wait to try it. I have been making stuffed fish recently so this is a very nice moment for me to have your Zizi Patricia idea!

    I was wondering about next day eating for the enhanced flavor. So, do you reheat or serve at room temperature? Have you found one way better?

    I love peppers and fish, so this is a must.

    Kind Regards,

  10. Hello Jul’s,
    Thank you for this recipe for stuffed peppers. Sound very good.
    One question: What do you mean by “pickles”?
    Is it like the French: “Cornichons”? to go with the Capers?
    Or, is it something different?
    Thank you for your guidance.
    A bientôt

      1. 2 stars
        We make these with small green peppers stuffed with moistened broken apart bread tuna anchovies and small amount of pepper and dab of oil. Then fry on low until all sides are soft after which we put in oven with tomato sauce and Locatelli cheese. Deliciozo

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