Several years ago we rented an apartment in Rome near the Campo Di Fiori market where farmers, fish mongers, and vendors of assorted types bring their wares. We went every day and I would like to say that we bought fresh vegetables and such and came home to cook them up. But No! Instead we ate at the neighboring trattorias and restaurants who had done the shopping for us. If you look closely at the snapshot I took at the marker you will see luscious bell peppers and tomatoes for sale.
Peperonata is not exactly a Roman specialty, but more one of Southern Italy. And, it was in one of the trattorias which we frequented that I was introduced to the possibilities the dish provides. Serve it warm as a side dish for meat dishes, heat it up and serve it as a pasta sauce, a little colder, add lots of basil and parsley at it becomes a salad of sorts. And, there is still another possibility – chop it up a bit, slather it on crostini and it becomes a bruschetta.
Searching the web for recipes just to see other bloggers’ take on this dish you might find slight variations. The Italian sites tend to add either tomato sauce or they mash-up their fresh tomatoes. At any rate, the trick with peperonata is to let the bell pepper take front and center stage. Green, yellow, orange bell peppers are nice and add interest and color to the dish, but I prefer using red peppers.
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium size sweet onion, sliced thinly
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 4 red sweet peppers, seeded and sliced in vertical strips
- 2 vine ripe tomatoes, peeled & sliced
- chopped basil or Italian parsley
Wash and cut the peppers lenghwise taking out the seeds and cutting off most of the white membrane. Slice in 1/4″ strips
Cut the onion in 4 sections lengthwise then cut the onion in long strips. Thinly slice the garlic.
Bring the olive oil to fragrant in a heavy skillet over medium heat
Cook the onions for about 8 minutes, stirring and making certain that they don’t brown (While the onions are cooking, seed and slice the peppers.
Add the garlic and continue to cook for 2 more minutes.
Add the pepper slices and cook another 8 minutes or so.
Add the tomatoes and cook stirring as needed for about 20 more minutes.
Serve – The addition of chopped parsley on the peperonata is nice.
Note: Cooking the ingredients less will make the peperonata more like a salad, but it might be too juicy. The above directions are for a peperonata which is more like our Southern “Stewed tomatoes” my mother-in-law, Myrtle, used to make.