Earlier this week I posted a recipe for Vegetarian Stuffed Tomatoes topped with Bechamel Sauce and mentioned the many and varied versions of this Greek dish known as "Yemista". Tony and I are planning on creating a cheese-filled yemista of sorts for one of our Meat-free/Carb-free week meals next week so I thought I should do a quick test run with some home-made ricotta to make sure it held up to the task.
The ricotta performed very well indeed, perhaps a little too well... to the point of causing a scientific phenomenon known as Exploding Pepper Collapse. I think my choice of vegetable to stuff had a lot to do with the unfortunate result here. I've stuffed long, thin peppers before, but not with self-combusting cheese.
Obviously the use of a self-standing vegetable like a plump tomato or a sturdy capsicum would avoid the gravitational tendency of ricotta cheese that, given the opportunity, will simply remove itself from its surrounds. And that's exactly why I conducted this experiment. I now know not to use sideways-lying banana peppers for our recipe next week!
Before explosion – beautiful, neatly stuffed peppers
After explosion – not one bit of stuffing left inside the peppers
They might have been a bit of a visual fail but they still tasted amazing. It's a really, really simple filling but oh so flavoursome. Mint and ricotta are just magic together.
Yemista Piperi (Banana Peppers Stuffed with Ricotta and Mint)
- 4 small red or green self-standing capsicums (or banana peppers if you'd like to recreate the Exploding Pepper Collapse phenomenon)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 400g fresh ricotta
- 3 tablespoons mint, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Fry the onions in 3 tablespoons of oil until golden.
- Meanwhile, cut the tops off capsicums and set aside. Using a paring knife, carefully remove seeds and membranes from the capsicums (or banana peppers).
- Place cooked onions, ricotta, mint, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix well.
- Pour the remaining olive oil into a high-sided baking dish and roll capsicum (or banana pepper) shells in oil to coat.
- Stand capsicum shells upright and stuff with cheese mixture, (or lay banana peppers flat) then cover with capsicum tops.
- Bake in oven for 1 hour, or until capsicums are starting to brown.
- Serve with a simple tomato and cucumber salad mixed with fresh shredded mint and extra virgin olive oil.