Peperonata

March 16, 2012 / Food & Wine
Sicily
Peperonata base ingredient!
Peperonata base ingredient!

Bell peppers are no longer in the garden but in our freezer. We were recently snowed in and no salad in our fridge so I defrosted some peppers to make peperonata for dinner. As we ate, I asked my husband Pino 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.

Peperonata recipe holder, Signora Vincenza
Peperonata recipe holder, Signora Vincenza

Peperonata Recipe

Here’s the peperonata recipe of Pino’s wonderful mother, Signora Vincenza. If any is leftover, do not refrigerate: simply enjoy 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!)

Wash 5 or 6 bell peppers.
Slice into strips about 2 inches wide.
Cover stainless steel frying pan with olive oil.
Heat.
Add 2 whole garlic cloves and when garlic is golden, turn peppers into
sizzling oil, browning the pepper strips.
When peppers are blistered, pour in about 1 c. or more of wine vinegar.
Add about 1 1/2 tsp rock salt. Cook til wine vinegar is almost all evaporated.
In summer, add about 2 c. diced very ripe tomatoes (in other seasons, add 1 large can tomatoes).
Simmer until liquid of tomatoes evaporates.
Serve.

Note: all quantities are approximate as I learned this by watching my Sicilian mother-in-law make this dish. After all, “qb” (or quanto basta, i.e., “as much as necessary”) is the most common Italian cookbook annotation!

Buon appetito!

Peperonata in the making!
Peperonata in the making!

Thanks to Jerome Spector for the image of the bell peppers!

Anne Robichaud

by Anne Robichaud

An Umbrian tour guide in Italy most of the year, Anne also teaches Umbrian rural cuisine in private homes in the U.S. in February and March (see www.annesitaly.com/Cooking.html)…and lectures.
Anne and her husband Pino worked the land for many years in the 1970′s and rural life, rural people, rural cuisine are una passione for Anne. She writes frequently on Umbria and other areas of Italy. See www.annesitaly.com for more on her tours, cooking classes, lectures – and her blog! Do see www.stayassisi.com for news on the Assisi apartment she and Pino now rent out!

24 Responses to “Peperonata”

  1. John Bellanti

    Dear Anna Robichaud,
    Now your last name doesn’t sound Italian. However I loved your article and could taste that peperonata. In our Italian-American home (we just spent 10 months in Italy in the Abruzzo) we make that recipe a little differently.
    1/2 sliced lg onion-
    one to two cloves of finely chopped garlic
    brown in two to three tablespoons of olive oil
    four cups sliced multi-colored sliced peppers.
    salt to taste,
    a half teaspoon of sugar.
    service on slices of baggetts or Italian bread.
    great for appetizer or just munching on all day
    Somehow when we make it for friends all of it is eaten.
    Thanks for sharing I loved your article. John Bellanti

    Reply
  2. Nancy Mazza

    Dear Annie,

    I am saddened to hear of the passing of Pino’s mother, Signora Vincenza. I remember when you made this dish for me at Yvonne’s old place on Arguello St in SF many, many years ago. I loved it then, and will make it again soon in her honor.

    xoxxoxo

    Reply
  3. Paula (Giangreco) Cullison

    Anne, GRAZIE!! My Sicilian born father made this quite frequently. I love peperonata. Dad grew the the best peppers in our backyard garden in Brooklyn, NYC… a taste of la bella Sicilia.
    Cioa, Paula

    Reply
  4. Giuseppe Spano
    Giuseppe Spano

    Talk about mouth watering! Wow! nothing like arrostito or peperoni fritto on a pane Altamura e caciocavalo , although I do like one or two peperocini in the mix for spice. got to go to the cucina to get this going, ciao

    Reply
  5. My “winter soup” starts with onions and green/red/yellow (whatever is cheapest) peppers, sauteed in olive oil. This produces a wonderful sweet broth, to which is added, “QB”, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, carrots, and whatever stock is on hand. Add garlic, herbes de Provence, salt & pepper to taste, and you have a delicious and hearty soup. Utterly simple. You can add some kind of grated cheese when it is served, or throw in pasta to stretch it out. My crock pot gets a LOT of use in the winter.

    Reply
  6. Barbara

    My mom has made these for years, no doubt taught to her by our Italian neighbor, Mrs. Davino. Last year we grew dozens of peppers and did them much like this, as well as putting some in the oven, simply to roast.
    The leftovers are even delicious on a sandwich with some ham and cheese.
    Can’t wait to return to Italy this summer!

    Reply
  7. Annette Loscialpo

    Dear Anne,
    After enjoying these peppers at your cooking class/dinner in Orange County, California,in February, my sisters and I said it was our favorite of the meal. We have since prepared them several times. The Costco here sells beautiful thick red
    peppers almost all year,but I plan to grow some in my garden this summer.
    Everyone, give this recipe a try. You will become a fan too.

    Reply
  8. ken borelli

    the little story reminded me of a similar comment when a grandchild visited Italy for the first time…and came back with wonderful stories and asked his grandfather why he left Italy in the first place…and the reply was, “you visited and saw Italy on a full stomach”….not always the case for many an immigrant…

    Reply
  9. Now when I was a child I hated this – all the more so because before my mother ever cooked the peppers, she and my dad charred the skins on long plates of steel placed over the burners,and then peeled them off, a messy process that always seemed to take hours and stank up the whole house. I would make them now, though, using my mom’s recipe which is strikingly similar to yours. One question though – why the “rock salt?” No one much uses it any more.

    Reply
  10. Gian Banchero

    It always amazes me that many Italian cookbooks never make great reference to the myriad of pepper recipes that all Italians enjoy from north to south, peppers are an obsession in Italy! One must try chicken Roman style with its copious amount of peppers; chicken and peppers is a match made in heaven as are peppers and torn rough country peasant bread. When I prepare peppers all my family’s regions are taken into account hence the end product is made with marjoram (Genova), much garlic (Piemonte) and hot peppers with capers (Sicilia)… Ah,then there is my Sicilian grandmother’s sweet and sour pepper dish made with chunks of tuna, sugar, capers and origano. Again, thank you Anne for yet another fine recipe!

    Reply
  11. Angela Melczer

    Annie:
    My grandmother made this and Pino is right…just with bread. However, my abruzzese father like a fried. Egg with it most of the time! Thanks for the memories…I could even smell it cooking in Ma’s kitchen!

    Reply
  12. Thank you so much, I was touched by the story behind the recipe. We will enjoy when our peppers overflow, hopefully this summer.

    Reply
  13. Claire Broome

    And what a wonderful mother she must have been–as John says about his mother–”she made a way out of no way”. Please know that you and Pino have my sympathy. best, Claire

    Reply
  14. Donna Becker

    This lovely dish came into my cooking lexicon by chance … in other words, the peppers, onions and garlic were all I had in the fridge. Geesh, and I thought I’d invented this stuff myself. Ha! Everything that is old is new again, right? I love the flavors with chicken and fish.

    Reply
  15. Sandy Thompson

    What a fabulous evening of delicous Italian food tonight in Winchester. I am hooked on Peperonata, and loved the story of Pino’s mother. Everything was wonderful! Come back for another cooking class soon!

    Reply
  16. Anne Robichaud

    Mille grazie to each of you for your kind notes. Molto appreciated.
    Peperonata was on last night’s menu at our cooking class in Winchester, MA…but not on the one tonight in Tewksbury MA….
    On to NYC and then DC..and home to Italy and casa dolce casa March 27th.
    John B, I am Irish-French Canadian (born in MA) but my husband Pino Alagna is Sicilian. In Italy, women do not take their husband’s names. Our bank accounts, driver’s license, tax declarations (!), passports – everything! – are in our own names.
    Ginny, thanks for sharing a tasty soup recipe.
    Angela, cooking in AZ in 2013, early Mar – see you there! Annette, good to cook with you

    Reply
  17. barbara ford

    My Mom use to make this with eggs and potatoes too. It was a great lental dish for a large family. I was the last of nine.

    Reply
  18. Anstell Ricossa

    My husbands Grandmother (from Piemonte) made this and she called it Pavrona’
    She used onions and garlic along with the bell peppers, and in the smummer time would add zucchinis have way through the cooking. Needless to say, DELIZIOSO !

    Reply
  19. Belinda Barretta

    Beautiful story, Beautiful mother in law and Beautiful food!!

    Reply
  20. Chris Orlando King

    Roasted (unfortunately on my electric stove burners by husband).
    Wrapped in newspaper for a while. Peeled carefully and cut into strips.
    In bowl, add olive oil and a little vinegar, pepper, salt and some garlic.
    Refrigerate. YUM!

    Reply
  21. Thank you or this recipe! I am an American living in Italy and recently had peperonata for the first time. It was so wonderful and I’ve been meaning to ask my Italian neighbor for the recipe. Thank you! This will be a recipe I make for my family for years to come!

    Reply

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