Recipe of a traditional Piedmontese starter: pepper rolls

In the Region where I live there’s a tradition to prepare a set of starters before the main courses. Nowadays we do not prepare many anymore for everyday meals, but think of this: the very traditional Piedmontese Sunday meal was used to include at least 7 starters.

Food is pretty much a religion in Italy, so the official starters of the Piedmont Region are approximately 140. Our creativity may allow us to create new ones, but for those who are very sticky to tradition, nothing can be served as an official starter out of the codified ones. Among the official starters the most popular ones at the international level are probably the Vitel Tonneé, the anchovies dressed with parsley sauce and the Russian Salad, although the list is very long.

Most of these starters were actually conceived as mid-afternoon snacks for those working in the vineyard, thus needing quite some energy to cope with the fatigue of going up and down the steep hills of the Monferrato, nowadays listed as world natural heritage by UNESCO. From the 1950s onwards, when machines have been introduced also to harvest the grapes, such recipes have mostly been prepared as starters, especially for festive meals. Such tradition originated the modern Aperitivo, pretty often organised in the form of open buffets where these traditional starters are always available.

Today I will present you a very simple and fresh official Piedmontese starter: it takes few ingredients and a very short time to prepare it: pepper rolls

Main ingredients for the Pepper Rolls


  • 4 peppers (better the squared ones)
  • 160 gr of tuna fish (1 can)
  • 10 fillets of anchovies
  • 1 tablespoon of capers (salted)
  • 1 hard egg
  • Parsley (a small bunch)
  • Salt, pepper and nutmeg
  • 1  tbps olive oil


The first thing to do is to roast the peppers. I only found red peppers at the market but you can use also green or yellow peppers, as you like.

You have a choice of 2: you can roast the peppers on a grill or in the oven using the ventilation function. I choose the latter. It took me approx. 30 minutes at 180 °C. Once roasted let them cool before peeling.

Piedmontese Pepper Rolls

Peel the peppers carefully, trying to the get 4 integer slices out of each.

Open the cans of tuna fish and put the content in a colander to remove the olive oil used to preserve it and do the same with the anchovies. Wash the capers to remove the salt, then boil and egg until hard and peel it.

Put the tuna fish, the anchovies, the capers, the hard egg and the parsley in your food processors, add 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil and turn it on. Process until it goes into a homogeneous mash. Check the salt (If the anchovies were pretty salty you might not need to add more), grate some black pepper and some nutmeg and mash with a spoon.

Roasted peppers and mashed stuffing

Now take one slice of pepper at a time, put 2 teaspoons of stuffing in the middle and roll it. Do the same with all the slices. With this volume of ingredients you should be able to make 16 rolls. The portion is usually of 2 or 3 rolls per person

Pepper Rolls

Serve them with a glass of Roero Arneis white wine.

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: unit
Servings: 16
Amount per serving 
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2.5g3%
Saturated Fat 0.5g3%
Cholesterol 22mg7%
Sodium 200mg9%
Total Carbohydrate 4.1g1%
Dietary Fiber 0.8g3%
Total Sugars 2.6g 
Protein 5.2g 
Vitamin D 1mcg6%
Calcium 18mg1%
Iron 1mg4%
Potassium 154mg3%
Nutrition facts based on a on-line calculator. Should you have food restriction or dietary needs, speak to your doctor in advance.

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