Italian peppers have a distinctive flavor that is pleasantly hot for any food lover's taste buds. Adding that kick of subtle hotness to appetizers is an age-old tradition to increase appetite before a sumptuous meal, and peppers fit perfectly in. Especially in Italian-style cooking, Italian peppers, chili flakes, and Calabrian chili dried play a vital role in adding some smoky flavor and color to any dish. Whether it is Italian roasted veggies or classic dried vegetables, a hint of pepper or chili never harms anyone - rather, it enhances the flavors and leaves guests and kids longing for a bit more of that heavenly zing.
Here, we are going to add a zingy twist to classic appetizers and side dishes using Italian peppers, and revamp them into modern-day starters that are quick and easy to make with minimal ingredients. From Italian style veggies to cheesy stuffed peppers with vegetables on the side, we have your favorite starter recipes modified to smokin' hot perfection.
Appetizer 1: Peppery & Crispy Vegetables
This is a quick and easy recipe to make a tummy-filling evening snack that your kids will love. Also, you will be able to sneak some nutrition into their tiny bodies without any fuss over eating vegetables. This dish also makes a great Italian starter with a Caribbean twist to impress your guests.
- Your choice of vegetables - 1 cup - Thinly cut
- All-purpose flour - 2 tablespoons
- Semolina - 4 tablespoons
- Eggplants and sweet peppers mixture in extra virgin olive oil - 3 tablespoons
- Salt - 1 teaspoon
- Chili Flakes - ½ teaspoon
- Ginger and garlic paste - ½ teaspoon
- Water - As required
- Oil - For deep frying
- Wash the vegetables properly. Then, with a cloth, wipe the veggies dry. You'll need properly dried vegetables for this recipe.
- Now aiming for a pouring consistency, mix semolina and water in a bowl.
- Add ginger-garlic paste and salt to the mixture.
- Now, dust your veggies with flour and tap off any excess.
- Heat the oil in a pan for frying your vegetables. While it heats up, dip dusted veggies into the semolina batter.
- Now, dip them into the hot oil for 30 seconds.
- Remove instantly and place on an absorbent paper. Sprinkle chili flakes.
- Then, in a baking dish, place your semi-fried veggies and top them off with eggplants and sweet peppers mixture.
- Place them in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 15 minutes.
Your peppery and crispy Italian style veggies are ready. Serve hot with mint mayonnaise, sweet onion sauce, or sour cream!
Appetizer 2: Cheesy & Zingy Stuffed Peppers
This is a cheesy and zingy twist to your usual stuffed peppers with vegetables on the side. Adults and kids love these alike, and no one has just one. The best part is that it takes about 30 minutes to prepare and plate - making this appetizer not only a diner's favorite but also a chef's delight.
- Bulk hot Italian sausage - 16 ounces
- Bell peppers - 8 of your choice
- Dried orzo pasta - 8 ounces
- Diced tomatoes with garlic - 1 (14.5-oz) can - Fire-roasted
- Reduced-sodium chicken stock - 2 cups
- Extra virgin olive oil - 2 tablespoons - Divided
- Calabrian chili dried - 1 tablespoon
- Mozzarella cheese - 4 ounces - Shredded
- Parmesan cheese - 2 ounces - Shredded
- Kosher salt - 1/2 teaspoon
- Basil leaves - 8 - Chopped for garnish
- Mix vegetables - 2 cups - Sauteed - For the side dish
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Then in a medium (10-inch) skillet, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat (for about 2 minutes).
- Add orzo pasta and stir occasionally until golden brown. Add chicken stock and cook for about 7-10 minutes, bringing to a boil. Stir occasionally until liquid is absorbed.
- Wash peppers meanwhile and cut the tops off. Then, remove veins and seeds. Don't throw the tops.
- Pat dry peppers with a paper towel. ln a microwave-safe bowl, place both lids and bottoms of the peppers and toss with kosher salt and 1 tablespoon oil to coat them properly. Cover bowl with microwave-safe lid or plastic wrap.
- Then, microwave for about 10 minutes until peppers are soft. Remove peppers from bowl and place in a 9”x9” baking dish, standing up (cut side up).
- Meanwhile over medium-high heat, put a medium skillet and cook sausage until browned.
- Now, in the orzo pan, stir and combine sausage, Calabrian chili dried peppers, tomatoes, parmesan, and mozzarella.
- Using a spoon, stuff this mixture into bottoms of peppers and keep the tops aside.
- Bake at 180 degrees Celsius until the top is lightly browned (about 7-10 minutes).
- Place tops on peppers and serve hot with a side of sauteed vegetables.
Your cheesy and zingy Italian stuffed peppers are ready. Your guests will be impressed by your culinary skills, and you won't even have to spend the whole day in your kitchen.
Italian peppers are truly gifted ingredients that can instantly add flavor and color to any dish. Don't be afraid to experiment with them, and add them to your pastas, pizzas, sandwiches, meats, and other dishes for a subtle kick of hotness. Also, if you're looking for a super-quick antipasto, try this sun dried tomatoes In oil recipe. It's a great instant snack or appetizer. Place on lightly toasted slices of crusty bread and enjoy.