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Bread-and-Anchovy-Stuffed Green Peppers

In an excerpt from the inspiring new cookbook Cucina Povera, Giulia Scarpaleggia shares a family recipe for sweet green peppers stuffed with a variety of pantry items such as anchovies.

9:00 AM EDT on October 27, 2023

bread and anchovy stuffed green peppers

Bread and anchovy-stuffed sweet green peppers. Excerpted from Cucina Povera by Giulia Scarpaleggia (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2023. Photographs by Tomasso Galli.

In her new cookbook, Cucina Povera, Giulia Scarpaleggia explores "The Italian way of transforming humble ingredients into unforgettable meals," as the subtitle puts it. Here, she recalls a family recipe to put the bounty of sweet peppers to use, stuffing them with breadcrumbs and anchovies for a hearty starter or even a main course. Pick up the book for her inspiring recipes as well as for her husband Tommaso Galli's evocative photography.

Cucina Povera book
Excerpted from Cucina Povera by Giulia Scarpaleggia (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2023. Photographs by Tomasso Galli.

Every year, my parents plant four rows of sweet green peppers in our garden for one single purpose: making stuffed friggitelli. This traditional recipe belongs to the Southern Italian branch of my family, from the hilltop town of Melfi in the region of Basilicata. The friggitelli peppers are stuffed with pantry ingredients: fried breadcrumbs and anchovies are the filling for the simplest version, a true cucina povera leitmotif. My aunt’s version is stuffed with tuna, capers, and olives. The underlying philosophy is to take whatever is found at the back of your pantry or your fridge—cheese, gherkins, pickled onions, you name it—and mix it with breadcrumbs to make a rich and tasty filling.

Bread-and-Anchovy-Stuffed Green Peppers

Bread-and-Anchovy-Stuffed Green Peppers

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Recipe by Giulia Scarpaleggia


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 18 18 friggitelli or other thin-skinned sweet green peppers, such as cubanelle or Jimmy Nardello, or even shishitos (see Note)

  • 4 4 salt-packed anchovies

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 120 ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 185 g coarse breadcrumbs

  • 2 tablespoons 2 chopped pitted black olives

  • 1 tablespoon 1 brined capers, rinsed and minced

  • 2 2 Roma (plum) tomatoes, diced

  • 1/3 cup 1/3 60 g canned tuna packed in olive oil, drained

  • 1/2 teaspoon 1/2 dried oregano

  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground

  • black pepper


  • Gently wash and dry the peppers, then remove the stems with a sharp knife and pull out the seeds. Set the peppers aside.
  • Rinse the anchovies under cold running water. Gently remove and discard the backbones, opening up each anchovy and separating it into 2 fillets. Finely chop the anchovies.
  • Pour the olive oil into a large frying pan set over low heat. Add the anchovies and cook, stirring, until they have melted into the oil. Increase the heat to medium, add the breadcrumbs, and cook, stirring, until they are golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  • Transfer the breadcrumb mixture to a bowl and add the olives, capers, tomatoes, tuna, and oregano. Mix well; you should have a moist filling that holds together when you squeeze it.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Line a baking pan that will hold the peppers comfortably with parchment paper.
  • Stuff the peppers to about one finger’s width from the top without compressing the filling too much or overfilling the peppers, as the stuffing has a tendency to burst out during baking.
  • Arrange the stuffed peppers in the baking pan, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, and season with salt and black pepper. Transfer to the oven and bake until the peppers are browned all over, 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the peppers.
  • Serve hot or at room temperature. Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for 2 days; reheat gently before serving.


  • You can substitute cubanelle, Jimmy Nardello, or shishito peppers for the friggitelli if necessary. Friggitelli are usually around 4 inches/10 cm long; if substituting a smaller pepper, you might need to increase the amount you use.
  • Excerpted from Cucina Povera by Giulia Scarpaleggia (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2023. Photographs by Tomasso Galli.

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