Creamy, colorful pepper poppers make the perfect side dish

Posted on June 8, 2022
Creamy, colorful pepper poppers make the perfect side dish
Ricotta and feta pepper poppers Photo Susie Iventosch

Back in the April 1, 2020 issue, we featured a homemade ricotta cheese recipe. It’s really fun to make and so delicious! Since then, we have used this recipe as an ingredient in many other recipes, including these delicious pepper poppers.

The mini peppers are so beautiful and colorful and they are absolutely delicious roasted with ricotta and feta cheese. The tangy flavor of feta is the perfect foil for these mini sweet peppers. Just stuff them and roast them until the cheese starts to brown for a perfect side dish for any meal or the main course for any vegetarians in your party. You can prepare the peppers a few hours in advance and refrigerate them until you’re ready to cook them for dinner.

If you don’t have the time or aren’t interested in making homemade ricotta, you can easily substitute store-bought ricotta to use in this recipe. But, if you have the time and the interest, even though making your own cheese at home seems a bit daunting, this ricotta recipe is super easy and really fun to make. It takes around 20 minutes to heat the milk and cream to the correct temperature, then it’s just a matter of how firm or soft you want your cheese to be that will determine the total time involved.

Whole milk makes a much better ricotta than low-fat milk, and it’s best to find one that isn’t ultra-pasteurized. Ultra-pasteurized milk is not recommended because it has already been heated to a very high temperature of 280 degrees Fahrenheit which prevents it from curdling properly. Normally pasteurized milk has been heated to a much lower temperature between 145 and 161 degrees. You need the curds and whey separated to make ricotta, so stick to normally pasteurized milk for this project.




Ricotta and feta pepper poppers


INGREDIENTS

24 mini sweet peppers in several colors red, orange and yellow

1 cup ricotta cheese (see recipe below for homemade ricotta)

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 teaspoon lemon pepper

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray baking sheet or casserole dish with PAM or equivalent.

Prepare the peppers:

Place the peppers on a cutting board. Cut a small triangle off the top of each of the peppers (see photo) with the wide end at the top near the stem. Leave the stem intact if possible. Remove the triangle and reserve for your salad tonight. Now scoop out any remaining seeds with a grapefruit scoop. Put aside. (You can also just take the easy route and cut them in half before filling them.)

Combine all remaining ingredients in a small bowl.

Assembly:

Using a small spoon or pastry bag, stuff the peppers up to the top of the opening with the cheese mixture. Place the peppers, stuffing side up, on your baking sheet or casserole dish.

Bake at 400 F for about 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown.

Serve hot!

homemade ricotta cheese

INGREDIENTS

8 cups whole milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (strained pulp)

2 tablespoons rice vinegar (you can also use white wine vinegar)

DIRECTIONS

In a medium to large saucepan, slowly heat the milk and cream together until they reach 185 F, stirring occasionally. The best way to measure the temperature is to attach a candy or instant-read thermometer to the side of the jar when you begin the process.

While the milk mixture is heating, line a colander with cheesecloth and place it over a bowl. Put aside. Combine lemon juice and vinegar in a small container.

Once the temperature reaches 185 F, remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the salt. Slowly drizzle the lemon juice and rice vinegar over the top. Stir gently with a spoon or silicone spatula until curds begin to form.

Pour the curd into the colander and roll the loose edges of the cheesecloth over the top of the cheese. Allow to drain until it reaches the desired consistency. This can take anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours, depending on the firmness of your ricotta. Store the cheese in an airtight container for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

Susie can be contacted at [email protected] This recipe can be found on our website: www.lamorindaweekly.com. If you would like to share your favorite recipe with Susie, please email her or call our office at (925) 377-0977. Or visit https://treksandbites.com