Cherry Pepper Delights 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.
These delightful cherry peppers are usually pickled and stuffed with a piece of provolone wrapped in prosciutto, and then packed in olive oil. 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.
When I started making homemade 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.
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.
Cherry peppers are a little 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.