Cherry Peppers, also known as pimiento peppers, are a common sight on an antipasti bar. Pickled, or stuffed with prosciutto and cheese, these little babies are sweet but with a slight kick that endears them to all lucky enough to taste one. While jars of pickled or stuffed hot or sweet cherry peppers can cost you upwards of $10, you can plant just one bush and have more than enough to make your own to last all year.
The cherry peppers grow “upside-down”, with the stem end underneath the developing fruits. They start green and mature to red. Contrary to most peppers, the green ones actually tend to have more “bite” while the riper red peppers are sweeter overall. It does depend upon your particular strain and your water/soil compilation, as the cherry peppers I am able to obtain had more bite than I bargained for!
I am blessed to live in a nice community in which the majority of my neighbors garden, and love to share their bounties amongst the locals. One guy has a literal football field sized garden, just for the ‘therapeutic effects’. Methinks he also is a generous guy who loves sharing his love of gardening & food. =)
Anyhow, this guy has some pretty legit pepper and tomato heirloom strains, passed down through many generations of Italians. These hot/sweet cherry peppers came from him. He has told me of his family’s recipe to stuff them, but I didn’t have any prosciutto, capicola, or mozzarella on hand, so I did a super-quick-and-easy stuff that I sometimes do with jalapenos, and it came out pretty tasty!
If you don’t have your own peppers, or access to a neighbor who shares, you could try a local farmer’s market, or the grocery store in mid to late summer. Any mild to hot pepper would work, however. You can also substitute in whatever type of cheese you prefer, and use just about any thinly-sliced deli meat. Additionally you can just use a nice cheese and no meat for a vegetarian appetizer.
These itty-bitty pepper poppers are perfect as an appetizer. They are super simple and will surely impress at your next picnic, barbeque, birthday, or tailgating party. This recipe makes about a dozen, but you can easily scale up or down based on how many you need/have. They are also pretty “pinchy” (my family word for spicy) so if you have picky palates you might want to soak them in vinegar overnight first.
- 1 dozen cherry peppers
- 1 oz cream cheese
- 2 slices deli ham or bacon
Step 1: Cut the tops off of the peppers. Use a small spoon to scoop out the seeds (and save them for next year!). Tear the ham into small pieces and line the hollow pepper with a slice or two.
Step 2: Take a teaspoon and spoon in a chunk of cream cheese, until pepper is fully stuffed. Each pepper will be a slightly different amount based on how large it is.
Step 3: Bake at 250F for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted and pepper are soft. Let cool until you can touch them, and then try not to wolf down the whole plate in one sitting. Or do. No judgment.
If you make oodles of these and still have peppers out the ears, you can try making your own pickled peppers, just like Peter Piper!