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Under starters orders – my favourite simple appetiser

March 24, 2014

Piedmontese peppersNowadays starters are non-starters. Hors d’oeuvre are no longer de rigueur. Who has the time, resources and energy to make more than a main course and pudding when friends come over? Some crisps, dips and a few crudités will do won’t they? And yet don’t you think that secretly everyone likes a starter? Whether it’s a big communal platter that everyone can dig into or individual scoops, slices or spoonfuls in a dish or bowl; the word appetiser is apposite.

If you’ve ever visited my house for supper over the past couple of decades, you are likely to have been served these Piedmontese peppers at some point.  They’re easy to make ahead, you can warm them up or serve at room temp (just not icy cold). Use the best peppers and tomatoes you can – mine are fragrant and full of flavour from the farmers market and I love the complementary colours of the yellow and purple tomatoes. Serve one half per person or put them in a big dish in the middle of the table. Fresh, crusty bread to mop up the sweet, sour, herby, garlicy juices is essential.

If you haven’t fallen for the charms of a starter they make a good side dish with lamb too. Turn them into a vegetarian main course with the addition of some cheese – make it a sharp but bland creamy cheese – perhaps mozzarella, slivers of halloumi or even feta. Add other things you like too – black olives, an anchovy or two, a sliver of salami or change the herbs (although I love the sweet medicinal taste of rosemary in contrast to the honey).
I’ve been tucking into these for lunch with juices soaked up with olive focaccia from Baker and Spice, also bought at the market.

Piedmontese peppers

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 4 peppers (capsicums)
  • 450 – 500g cherry tomatoes
  • 60ml extra virgin olive oil plus extra for brushing
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon raw honey
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated,
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (smoked if possible)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Flat leaved parsley, chopped roughly


  1. Preheat the oven to 220 C
  2. Cut the peppers in half lengthways, through the stalk. Cut out and discard the core, seeds and membrane.
  3. Place the pepper halves in a roasting tin and drizzle or brush with a little olive oil. Place the roasting tin near the top of the oven and roast for 25 minutes.
  4. Put the remaining ingredients except the parsley into a bowl and stir to combine.
  5. Remove the peppers from the oven and spoon the tomato mixture into the cavities.
  6. Return to the oven for about 25 minutes until the peppers are beginning to blacken at the edges and the tomatoes are soft.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature with the parsley scattered over the top.

Enhanced by ZemantaSo will you be starting with a starter?
Joining in with Ren Behan for Simple and in Season here – lots of lovely ideas.
  1. March 24, 2014 7:47 am


  2. March 24, 2014 8:44 am

    What an appetising idea, I can imagine many uses and variations on this theme. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • March 25, 2014 7:37 am

      Yes you can definitely mix this around a bit.

  3. March 24, 2014 9:34 am

    I have to admit that I’ve been known to be lazy about making starters. This one looks very tempting, though. I love the flavours – lemon, garlic, honey, rosemary, balsamic vinegar!

    • March 25, 2014 7:38 am

      This is the perfect lazy salad Erum.

  4. March 24, 2014 10:20 am

    I make a very similar version, often for lunch, with feta, black olives and pine nuts. I love your idea of rosemary and honey so will be trying that soon. Your photos are making me feel very hungry.

    • March 25, 2014 7:39 am

      Pine nuts – now that’s an excellent idea for another addition.

  5. March 24, 2014 10:33 am

    Looks delicious! Serving this should make a very pretty platter at a dinner table, love the colors and the flavour combination. 🙂

    • March 25, 2014 7:39 am

      The colours are great – I usually use a combination of red and yellow but just couldn’t resist the purple this time.

  6. March 24, 2014 10:53 am

    They look so beautiful and appetizing! The fresh colors make a perfect picture 🙂

  7. March 24, 2014 11:47 am

    A beautifull appetiser! Lovely colors and flavors.



  8. March 24, 2014 11:49 am

    Oh yes! I do like a platter of mezzeh type starters. This looks so vibrant and colorful and actually perfect for Meatless Monday – which it is today. I love the idea adding feta and olives to this too. This is good stuff!

    • March 25, 2014 7:41 am

      I missed a trick there didn’t I! Thanks for the reminder about Meat-free Monday and for your lovely comment.

  9. crasterkipper permalink
    March 24, 2014 12:08 pm

    What a beautifully simple recipe – I’ll be trying it this week x

    • March 25, 2014 7:41 am

      Let’s eat this together in the summer 🙂

  10. March 24, 2014 1:25 pm

    You know Sally – I do kind of miss a starter. I like nibbles and things, but it is a lovely pre-cursor to a meal isn’t it?

    ALSO – Ed used to make thus type of pepper stuffed with tomatoes as a starter when he was our main cook. I had forgotten how nice they were…I even used to forgive him for occasionally sneaking an anchovy fillet in there. I best we’ve not had them since George was born though. We must make them again. I think even George would be up for them – and he’s a kid and everything.

    Finally – the photos are gorgeous, what lovely light and colours. Bravo!

    • March 25, 2014 7:42 am

      Sadly one of my teens doesn’t like peppers and the other doesn’t like tomatoes (still find this baffling) so I only make when other people coming round. Praise from you on pics is praise indeed – all puffed up now!

  11. March 24, 2014 1:41 pm

    What a wonderful idea! I usually make different toppings for bruschetta for starters.

  12. March 24, 2014 7:02 pm

    The starters are my favourite part of any meal, they get my senses and mood going with the instant flavour and texture hits and I love getting my fingers into dips, crispy stuff and also see, juicy and beautiful dishes like yours. It looks succulent, aromatic and enough for part of a light meal too x

  13. March 24, 2014 9:21 pm

    They look so good!

    • March 25, 2014 7:43 am

      Thanks Anita, Deena and Elaine – appreciate your comments 🙂

  14. March 25, 2014 12:24 am

    Haha, that looks delicious, but is more likely to be served up as the main course in our house.

    • March 25, 2014 7:34 am

      Thanks Choclette – it’s good as a light lunch too.

  15. andreamynard permalink
    March 25, 2014 1:14 am

    Will definitely be starting with this starter very soon, looks yummy. Like the idea of honey & rosemary.

    • March 25, 2014 7:35 am

      It’s the fragrant medicinal taste with a note of sweetness that works well. Let me know what you think

  16. March 25, 2014 1:35 am

    Lovely starter — or even light lunch.

  17. glamorous glutton permalink
    March 25, 2014 11:34 am

    This is a delicious starter. I love the way you suggest to pimp it for a main too. Olives anchovies, a perfect trip through the south of France. GG

  18. March 25, 2014 2:13 pm

    Yum, these sound really good. The colours in this dish are so beautiful as well.

  19. March 25, 2014 7:16 pm

    What are the odds? I’ve just yesterday (without seeing this) posted my own stuffed pepper recipe. But I am ashamed that it is not nearly as glamourous as yours, Sally. Gorgeous images as always. And yes, I do like a little nibbly starter. I secretly like to make something a wee bit small and fussy, which goes so against my nature! Peppers are much easier and just as nice though.

    • March 25, 2014 9:08 pm

      We’re on the same wavelength obviously – and I thought of you when I posted this as the colours are so you Kellie!

  20. March 26, 2014 12:34 am

    Looks heavenly and simple! like the possibilities and I certainly do love an appetizer.

  21. March 26, 2014 3:06 am

    Sally, I’m sorry and I don’t mean to be rude or offensive in any way but it will not do … at least for me. I’m very old school and when I’m invited over I kind of expect to be … how can I put this? Let’s say properly fed. In my country food is a blessing and hospitality is sacred. I’m sure it is the same for you. I can tell from the way you love, talk about and cook food. Of course, this is only my opinion and nothing more. 🙂
    I can see how your colorful and lovely dish would complement a meat course beautifully. I’m intrigued by the lemon zest touch.

    • March 26, 2014 6:31 am

      I’d feed you properly Francesca! So glad you left a comment so it reminded me about your lovely blog – have just had a very long browse.

  22. tasteofbeirut permalink
    March 27, 2014 6:53 pm

    oh I could kiss you! I just have a bunch of peppers leftover from a styling job and my daughter and I were debating what to do with them; this would definitely win her approval!

  23. March 29, 2014 3:11 am

    Those colors and pictures! Amazing! I’d love to try out this recipe!

  24. March 29, 2014 1:45 pm

    I love appetizers! But yes we do mostly a large plate of different little dishes that people can grab and eat. Like a tapas kind of spread and this looks perfect for that!

  25. March 30, 2014 6:30 pm

    Oh my these look so good! But I would still serve some cheese!

  26. March 31, 2014 11:12 am

    I am salivating over these peppers!

  27. April 1, 2014 11:51 pm

    Gorgeous – so many wonderful flavours going on there and it’s the first time, literally, I’ve ever seen purple tomatoes! Thank you so much for joining in with Simple and in Season – lovely to have you, round up posted today x

  28. April 3, 2014 7:26 pm

    ohhh if son Mees sees this, he’ll have me make it everyday. As a matter of fact, that would please us all! What an appetizing appetizer!!!

  29. Chandni Lahoti permalink
    April 5, 2014 11:18 am

    Looks colourful, divine and delicious! Love the photography here – gorgeous!

  30. April 6, 2014 8:19 pm

    I am definitely a crackers and dip person when I have people come over, I will have to break this out though as it is absolutely stunning!

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