La Peperonata: Summertime Goodness from Sicily
Bell peppers are in the garden now so la peperonata often adds flashy, bright colors – and perky Sicilian flavors- to summer dinners. I remember asking my husband Pino years ago what his mother usually served her four children along with the peperonata she made.
“Pane,“ was the answer. Bread? Just bread? When I asked Pino if it was served alongside of some chicken or cheese or with eggs “because a protein is more filling,”,Pino explained patiently, “Anna, we are not talking dietology here – or about nutrition. The point is hunger. Our stomachs were filled as best my mother could with what she had.”
If you make this peperonata, you can serve it as a side dish or pair it with just a good thick slice of bread: the meal years ago of many a Sicilian household.
Here’s the peperonata recipe of Pino’s wonderful mother, Signora Vincenza. If any is leftover, do not refrigerate, even if it’s a hot summer: the vinegar in it will maintain the dish. Enjoy any left over the next day at room temperature. (Pino was about 15 when they finally had a refrigerator. Leftover peperonata remained on the kitchen shelf overnight – but he doesn’t remember much ever “left over” of anything!)
I enjoy telling the brief “peperonata story” above as an introduction to the dish before preparing it at cooking classes both in our Assisi farmhouse and in the U.S. classes in February and March each year. Cooking class attendees write me that they often make if for family and friends, so tasty..and easy..as you can see here:
- 5 or 6 bell pepper
- 2 whole garlic cloves
- 2 c or so of very ripe tomatoes
- wine vinegar, q. b. (quanto basta, i.e., “as much as necessary”)
- salt, q. b.
- olive oil, Extra-virgin only, q. b.
Wash 5 or 6 bell peppers. Slice into strips about 2 inches wide. Cover stainless steel frying pan with olive oil, Extra-virgin only. Heat.
When olive oil is hot but NOT smoking, add the garlic cloves, then the peppers.
Peppers will blister in sizzling oil.
As peppers slices blister, take them out of frying pan with a fork, setting aside until all peppers are browned.
When all are blistered, return to frying pan, pouring over the peppers about 1 c. or more of wine vinegar.
Add about 1 1/2 tsp rock salt. Simmer at fairly high heat until wine vinegar is almost all evaporated.
Add fresh tomatoes.
Simmer until liquid of tomatoes evaporates.
NOTE: In summer, add about 2 c. diced very ripe tomatoes (in other seasons, add 1 large can tomatoes). And all quantities are approximate as I learned this by watching my Sicilian mother-in-law make this dish. Buon appetito!
And la peperonata is sure to entice family and friends: just ask those who learned to prepare it with me in cooking classes!
……and how we love enjoying those Palermo peppers dishes with our Sicilian friends!
Read about – and see – cooking in Annapolis MD… and cooking up peppers, too!
Read about cooking up peppers in a showroom kitchen in California!
Read about – and see! – cooking up la peperonata in our farmhouse kitchen
Read about the caseificio where we bought the cheeses
Read here about another favorite peppers recipe
……and here’s the Umbria way to cook up bell peppers