Throughout the next six weeks or so, you may just have to be tolerant with my posts. Kind of like how you smile and act interested when someone shows you photo after photo after photo of their grandkid. You see, I'm relatively new to this gardening business, and that translates into "Nobody's ever grown a banana pepper like I have before!" I'm going to expect you to ooh and ahh over my produce babies, and comment on how they look just like their mother (?)
I love banana peppers, but I confess that my experience with them has been mostly limited to the sliced, jarred variety that I love to put on grilled sandwiches and pizza. So when my banana pepper plant exploded with reproductivity this past week, I was forced to think outside the pizza box and come up with a way to use these lovelies in another recipe.
All peppers were designed to be stuffed, so I knew I couldn't go wrong if I went that route. But what to stuff these banana boats with? Well, since my experience with them leaned toward the pizza side, I decided to go with a kind of inside-out, crustless pizza theme. Pure genius Mags. It's no wonder that your family adores you.
My initial pepper prep attempt had me cutting the caps off of the peppers and forcing the stuffing longitudinally, for lack of better description. I finally figured out (on the last pepper) that I was better off slicing them lengthwise, treating them nicely (dinner, drinks and a movie,) and then stuffing them from the side.
Stuffed Banana Peppers
4 large banana peppers (the straighter, the better)
24 turkey pepperonis, chopped
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely diced (not the oil packed kind)
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used 2%)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced (I believe the pros call that chiffonade?)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
salt and pepper
2 cups of some type of tomato sauce... spaghetti, marinara, pizza (I used my homemade pizza sauce.) divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8X8 baking dish with cooking spray.
Make a 2-3 inch incision lengthwise down one side of each pepper, being careful not to cut all the way through into the other side. Widen this incision by making another cut parallel to the first cut, carving out a narrow space where you'll be able to remove the seeds from the pepper. Remove seeds and set peppers aside.
Combine the pepperoni, sun-dried tomatoes, mayonnaise, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, garlic powder, basil and oregano in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Gently pry apart the pepper and stuff with the pepperoni/cheese mixture. Lay peppers in baking dish, stuffed side up. Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with half of tomato sauce. Return dish to oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Serve with remaining tomato sauce on the side.