Peperonata. To be honest: I hadn’t heard of it, but it’s the best thing I’ve eaten in Italy. Normally it’s a side dish. I had it as main. It was more than enough. Even the Italians know that, because it’s seen as a pretty heavy dish.
Peperonata comes from Sicily, but is eaten all over Italy. I had my first variation in Monza. Sara Bigatti made it for me one evening after shooting videos for her La Scimmia Yoga YouTube channel and my Dutch Smiling Yogi YouTube channel. Normally it’s eaten as a side dish. Mostly together with meat. The taste is that strong that Italians won’t serve it with fish, because it’s so strong, you won’t taste the fish anymore. Except when you have a fish like swordfish, which has a strong taste of it’s own.
- bell peppers: two different colors
- salt and pepper
- tomatoes or tomato cubes out of a can (without any conservatives except for salt)
- Olive oil (extra virgin)
- Cut the bell peppers in pieces
- Peal the garlic and union
- Cut the tomatoes in pieces if you work with fresh ones
- Put some olive oil in a wok or skillet and fry the unions and garlic on a high fire until they are golden
- Add the peppers and stir
- Add the tomatoes
- Add a little bit of water
- Put the fire low and let the peperonata cook for an hour. Stir frequently and add water if needed
- Add some pepper and salt to taste
- After one hour your peperonata is ready. Your bell peppers should be soft and your tomato sauce should be creamy now
- Optional: vinegar or balsamic vinegar
There are variations where Italians add black olives to the peperonata as well. If you do so, make sure you have good ones. Fresh olives from a Turkish shop or other good quality olives. Another option is to add vinager or balsamic vinegar to the peperonata. You want the vinager to evaporate during cooking. What’s left is a nice flavor.
You can use the peperonata also as a sauce for paste or mackerel, but it will make it a very heavy meal. Sara serves a vegan variation with chickpeas as a second dish instead of meat or fish.
Because it takes so long to prepare Italians normally cook a lot, so they can eat it the next day as well. As with curries it’s actually better the next day. The second day the peperonata will be eaten with bruschetta (dried bread) as a snack.
You’ll find more recipes on my Recipe Page.