Upside-Down Stuffed Peppers (Peperoni Ripieni Sottosopra)
Author: Mary Ann Esposito
  • Tomato Sauce:
  • 4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion; peeled and minced
  • 3 pounds boneless pork butt; cut into 1" chunks
  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 2 large cloves garlic; minced
  • 2 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounce each)
  • 1 can tomato puree (28 ounce)
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper
  • 5 fresh basil leaves (to 6); shredded
  • Stuffing:
  • 9 large sweet bell peppers; washed and dried
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 2 Cups cooked rice
  • 1 Cup grated Parmiggiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 large onion; peeled and minced
  • 4 eggs
  1. To make the sauce, in a sauce pot heat the olive oil and cook the onion until it softens. Stir in the pork butt chunks and Italian sausage and brown on all sides. Stir in the garlic and cook until the garlic softens. Lower the heat and stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer the sauce for about 1 hour. Stir in the basil. The sauce is now ready to use.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Cut 1/4-inch off the tops of the peppers. Carefully remove the seeds with a spoon, then rinse the peppers and set them aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the sirloin, pork, veal, rice, cheese, onions, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix gently with your hands. Fill the cavities of the peppers with some of the mixture, being careful not to overpack them or they will split in the oven while baking.
  5. Ladle 1 1/2 Cups of tomato sauce in each of 2 large baking pans. Arrange the peppers upside down in the pans. Ladle 2 Cups of the sauce over each pan of peppers. Cover the pans tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the peppers are soft. Remove the pans from the oven, remove the foil, and carefully turn the peppers right-side up.
  6. Serve the peppers immediately with additional sauce on the side.
This recipe yields 9 stuffed peppers.

Comments: This is one of the most magical dishes of southern Italy, especially from around the province of Avellino, in Campania. I have often grown sweet bell peppers in my garden, but the sweetness of those I have had from Campania far outshines anything I have ever tasted here. It is the variety, the intensity of the Mediterranean sun, and the long growing season that accounts for this. Or maybe it is the proximity of grumpy Mount Vesuvius that has lent richness to the soil over the centuries.

Whatever the reasons, these delicious peppers and the variety of seasonings and stuffings they encase are a favorite of many. My mother makes hers with ground beef, ground pork, and ground veal and keeps this meat mixture moist by baking the stuffed peppers upside down. They can be baked a day ahead and are even better as leftovers. They make a great entree for a party. Serve a salad and crusty bread and let the party begin!

Source: Ciao Italia at

Yield: "9 peppers"

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 4739 Calories; 280g Fat (53.1% calories from fat); 307g Protein; 250g Carbohydrate; 30g Dietary Fiber; 1760mg Cholesterol; 17183mg Sodium. Exchanges: 6 1/2 Grain(Starch); 38 1/2 Lean Meat; 24 1/2 Vegetable; 33 1/2 Fat.

NOTES : Recipe from "Ciao Italia - Bringing Italy Home" by Mary A. Esposito, (St. Martin's Press, 2001)
Recipe by Recipes at