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Our cookbook of the week is Claudia Roden’s Mediterranean: Treasured Recipes from a Lifetime of Travel by Claudia Roden. Over the next three days, we’ll feature more recipes from the book and an interview with the author.
Claudia Roden began her food writing career in the 1960s, with her groundbreaking debut, A Book of Middle Eastern Food (1968). But her experience stuffing vegetables goes back even further — to her childhood in Cairo, Egypt, where she was born in 1936.
“For years, I have been making hundreds of stuffed vegetables. All over the Mediterranean there are stuffed vegetables. And I’ve spent hours and hours making every kind of stuffed vegetable in every kind of way, with every kind of filling,” says Roden, laughing.
In her family’s culture, she writes in Claudia Roden’s Mediterranean, making labour-intensive foods — such as stuffed vegetables — was a way to express love to one another and respect to guests.
Roden recalls an American magazine asking her to write a selection of recipes for stuffed vegetables once. “And they didn’t want any of them,” she laughs, “because they were just so complex.”
Her approach to stuffing vegetables has since become more streamlined. She rarely wants to spend hours preparing labourious dishes when she has family or friends over at her North London home, Roden adds. Since these stuffed peppers are so quick to make, they fit in nicely with her style of entertaining.
“This one was so easy, and the filling was also so fresh and simple. And it was really the embodiment of Mediterranean ingredients,” says Roden. “And that’s why I just thought, if I put a stuffed vegetable (in the book), let me put this one.”
STUFFED PEPPERS WITH BREADCRUMBS, ANCHOVIES, OLIVES AND CAPERS
3 Romano peppers (see note), slit lengthwise and seeded
6 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and chopped
6 good-quality black olives, such as Kalamata, pitted and chopped
1 tbsp tiny capers in brine, drained
1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves chopped
Scant 3/4 cup (40 g) fresh breadcrumbs
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a roasting pan with foil.
Arrange the peppers cut-side up on the foil. Roast for about 30 minutes, until they are soft. Set aside to cool.
Mix together the anchovies, olives, capers, parsley, breadcrumbs and olive oil to make a stuffing. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, put a little stuffing into each and serve at room temperature.
Note: Use the long Romano peppers commonly found in Middle Eastern markets, or substitute Anaheim chilies.
Recipe and image reprinted with permission from Claudia Roden’s Mediterranean: Treasured Recipes from a Lifetime of Travel by Claudia Roden, copyright 2021. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.