When it comes to making a Peperonata I become a testa dura (a hard head, someone who resists change).
For me, like so many other Sicilian recipes, I never include tomatoes or passata.
My maternal grandmother from Catania used to make it and I always remember her adding some water. You may find this strange, but it does soften the peppers and this water does evaporate.
The other thing I like to include in my Peperonata is vinegar and a little sugar. This also makes it an agro-dolce dish.
Yellow and red peppers are common in a Peperonata, simply because they are sweeter in taste. The multi coloured peppers add visual impact.
On this occasion I just used red peppers becausein South Australia red peppers are still abundant, they were firm and fresh specimens.
There are variations to making Peperonata, and this will not surprise you one bit. For example, apart from adding tomatoes, some add black olives or cubed potatoes.
But not me!
In some parts of Sicily, the Peperonata is topped with toasted breadcrumbs (good white bread, coarse crumbs tossed in a frypan with hot extra virgin olive oil). I must admit that the breadcrumbs (as the cubed potatoes) do soak up some of the juices and add a different texture.
But not me… well, not always!
I like to present it as an antipasto with good bread.
I always serve it cold.
Peperonata is relatively easy to make, you just have to make sure that there is sufficient liquid in the pan so that the peppers don’t stick.
Obviously, you can also imagine this dish paired with baked ricotta or burrata. Because of the vinegar and the sugar, and just like a pickle, it pairs well with some small goods – breasaola, lomba, ossocollo…those lean thin slices of meat.
It is delicious as a stuffing for a panino or for a bruschetta…not that I ever make bruschetta, it is far too trendy!
3 white onions, 1 clove of garlic chopped finely
6 peppers of mixed colours, but the red and yellow peppers are sweeter
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons of white or red wine vinegar
salt and black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoons of sugar, to taste
Slice the onions finely. Core the peppers and cut them into strips.
Heat the oil, soften the onion and then add the peppers and the garlic and sauté the ingredients.
Cover with a lid and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent onions and peppers from sticking to the bottom.
When the peppers start to soften add about 1/4 cup of water. Stir to coat all the peppers well.
Cover with the lid again, add salt and pepper and continue cooking them on slow heat for about 10 minutes. Remove the lid, turn up the heat, add the vinegar and the sugar. Turn up the heat, stir the ingredients to coat them and evaporate some of the liquid.
Add fresh basil leaves or fresh oregano. Place into a container and leave the peperonata for at least 4 hours for the flavours to intensify. I like to leave it overnight in a covered container in the fridge.
Serve at room temperature.
At the time of serving you may wish to remove the spent oregano / basil and replace it with fresh leaves.