Cherry Pepper Delights, or stuffed cherry peppers, are my absolute go-to at Italian delis and olive bars, right on par with the spicy marinated olives. I always pick 2 or 3 and stuff them into a thin plastic container along with a couple marinated artichoke hearts and mozzarella balls, making sure to leave all the liquid behind, of course- they charge by the pound! Plus, they inevitably leak.
What is a Cherry Pepper Delight?
Cherry pepper delights are usually pickled and stuffed with a piece of provolone wrapped in prosciutto, and then packed in olive oil until ready to enjoy. They make for a perfect salty, briny mid-day snack, when you want more than just an granola bar, but aren't quite ready for dinner.
They also make for an impressive addition to your holiday antipasto spread. We've all had these little Cherry Pep Delights, but who's ever actually made them? You have, that's who, and that's impressive.
The Cheese in Cherry Pepper Delights
When I started making homemade Cherry Pepper Delights, (CPDs) I felt inclined to modify certain aspects of them. I do enjoy provolone in small quanities to bring a bold cheesy flavor to foods like chicken meatballs, mac and cheese, and turkey sandwiches, but I don't love biting into a hunk of provolone. So instead of provolone, I use fresh mozzarella. Its freshness is a nice way to counteract the brininess of the pepper and slatiness of the meat.
I specifically use Ciliegine Mozzarella, which means "cherry size". These little balls of mozzarella fit perfectly insude of a cherry pepper once wrapped in salami. You can find them in the cheese section of most grocery stores.
The Meat in Cherry Pepper Delights
Speaking of meat, good prosciutto is truly delicious. Good prosciutto is soft and tender, not tough or stringy. But good prosciutto is also expensive, and I find it hard to justify stuffing expensive, delicate prosciutto inside of a pepper where it can get a little lost. Therefore, I opt for thinly sliced Genoa salami, which has a soft texture and will allow for an easy biting experience and delicious flavor. You should still eat prosciutto, just eat it alongside your pepper with the rest of your charcuterie.
Feel free to trial other deli meats as well, such as mortadella or pepper turkey. If you want to keep it vegetarian, simply leave the meat out of it and substitute with a second cheese.
As its name implies, Cherry Pepper Delights use cherry peppers as the main ingredient. Cherry peppers are fairly spicy, but if you're still warming up to spice, you'll welcome the fresh mozzarella's tendency to cool down the intensity of the spice. Give it a try, don't let the spice intimidate you.
These benefit from at least an hour of pickling before serving, but you can make them in the morning and serve them later in the day.
Watch my video tutorial on how to make these Cherry Pepper Delights on TikTok.Print
Cherry pepper delights are the most fun part of an antipasto plate.
- 12 cherry peppers
- 12 thin slices of Genoa salami
- 12 "Ciliegine" Mozzarella balls
- Equal parts red wine vinegar and distilled white vinegar, enough to coat peppers to pickle.
- ¼ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- Olive oil for serving
- Begin by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, use a knife to carefully cut in a circle around the top of each pepper, like you would when carving a pumpkin. Remove the stems, then pry out the seeds. Discard stems and seeds.
- Prepare an ice bath. Place peppers in boiling water for 3 minutes. Immediately following the 3 minutes, use a spider or slotted spoon to transfer peppers to the ice bath to stop their cooking.
- Locate a shallow container or bowl with a lid that will just fit 12 peppers snugly. Fill the container half way with the 2 vinegars, sugar, and salt.
- Set up your pepper-stuffing assembly line of salami, mozzarella, peppers, and pickling liquid. Place a mozzarella ball in the middle of a slice of salami, fold all sides of the salami to wrap the mozzarella, and stuff the entire salami/mozzarella ball into a pepper. Place the pepper into the vinegar. Repeat 12 times. You can squeeze more peppers into the container than you think.
- Cover the container, shake, and place in the fridge until ready to serve, at least 1 hour. When ready, remove peppers from the container and transfer them to a serving plate. Drizzle generously with olive oil.