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Stuffed Romano peppers with ricotta and mascarpone

Side Vegetarian
Serves 6 as a starter or part of a mezze platter

Soft white cheese, such as ricotta or the creamier mascarpone, reflect the milieu in which an animal has been raised. This receptiveness to other flavours is what makes both cheeses such favourites of ours, in savoury and sweet cooking alike. Harder cheeses are often best left to stand on their own two feet. In this recipe, use the best quality ricotta you can find.


6 romano peppers (650g)
200g ricotta
100g mascarpone or cream cheese
40g pine nuts, lightly toasted  
10g fresh oregano leaves, roughly chopped
1 tsp grated lemon zest, plus 1 tsp juice
3 tbsp olive oil  
1 tsp best-quality balsamic vinegar
1 small green chilli, cut into paper-thin slices
salt and black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Use a little knife to make a small vertical incision – about 6 centimeters long – from the top towards the end of each pepper. You will use this incision to scoop out the seeds later. Arrange the pepper on a roasting tray and place in the oven for 30 minutes, until soft. Remove and set aside to cool before using a small spoon to carefully extract and discard the seeds. The aim is to leave the stem on the peppers when they are stuffed so take your time here: it’s a fiddly job. Peel the skin off the peppers – again, don’t rush here – and set aside on a kitchen paper-lined plate to dry. 
  3. To make the filling place the cheeses, nuts, oregano, lemon zest, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large bowl. Add half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper and whisk well. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture into each pepper and press evenly inside. Don’t worry if the incision increases in the process: you can use your hands to seal the pepper. 
  4. Wipe the peppers clean and place them on individual serving plates. Drizzle 2 teaspoons of olive oil around each pepper and then dot the oil with a few drops of the balsamic. Sprinkle over a few slices of the green chilli and serve.