Gennaro: Slow Cook Italian

“Slow cooking is one of my favourite ways to cook: it’s simple, stress-free and allows you to get on with other things safe in the knowledge that slowly, slowly the stove-top or oven is doing its job. Stews and sauces bubble on the hob, a roast cooks in the oven with herbs gently infusing the meat, breads and cakes bake, all filling the house with mouthwatering smells and creating that special warmth which nothing else can.” – Gennaro Contaldo

Italian food is delicious, often reflecting heritage and tradition that celebrates the beauty of food and fine ingredients. Gennaro Contaldo has taken this a step further in his book Gennaro: Slow Cook Italian which emphasizes recipes that are cooked intentionally with the slowness of a pot on the stove or a pan in the oven (or in some cases, the modern addition of a slow cooker). Using fresh flavors, whole ingredients, and simple techniques, this book is a premium collection of Italian recipes that are delectable in flavor and appealing for their simplicity. Baked Peppers Filled with Risotto, Almond Tea Cake, Rosemary Bread Rolls, Chickpea Soup, and Potato Bake with Beer make this collection of recipes diverse and delightful – well worth exploring the next time that you want Italian food.

Baked Peppers Filled with Risotto

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

1/2 onion finely chopped

3/4 cup arborio rice

1/2 zuccini, cubed

1/2 eggplant, cubed

2 tsp tomato puree

3 cups vegetable stock

1 oz. Parmesan (I used vegan)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 large bell peppers

4 1/2 ounces mozzarella, cubed (I used Daiya)

A handful of fresh mint leaves, torn

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the onion, and sweat on medium heat until softened. Stir in the rice until each grain is coated with oil. Stir in the zucchini, eggplant, and tomato puree, then add a little stock and cook until absorbed.

Gradually add the remaining stock, stirring all the time, for 12-15 minutes. The rice should be quite firm. Remove from the heat, stir in the Parmesan, taste for seasoning, and leave to cool slightly.

Slice the tops off the peppers, keeping the stems so they look like little hats, and set aside. Put the peppers in a lightly oiled baking dish. Half-fill them with the risotto, add a few cubes of mozzarella, gently pressing it into the filling, and some mint. Add the remaining risotto and more mozzarella, pressing it in. Put the ‘hats’ on the filled peppers, drizzle with a little olive oil, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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