Tag Archives: Contorno of vegetables

PEPERONATA – PIPIRONATA (Sicilian) Braised peppers

Peperonata is usually made with the red and yellow peppers, onions and tomatoes and in some parts of Sicily potatoes are added. Sometimes, mainly for colour, 1-2 green peppers are added.

Peperoni (peppers) are vibrantly coloured – green, red and yellow and I have also seen  new varieties of dark green (almost black) and cream ones as well.

Towards the end of summer and to mid-autumn there are greater numbers of yellow and red peppers – these are much sweeter in taste.

The vegetables are braised slowly and the results are fabulous – the onions and tomatoes almost melt and coat the peppers.

As a contorno, it is an excellent accompaniment for simply cooked fish or meat ( BBQ or fried). It makes a great filling for panini and transports well for picnics….  An Easter picnic perhaps?

Traditionally there are two ways of making peperonata. The first method is to add all the ingredients in a wide pan with some olive oil and to cook it slowly on low heat. Add a little water and stir it periodically so that they do not stick. In Sicily sausages are also commonly cooked in this way – once the water evaporates, the fat/oil is left in the pan to fry and brown the ingredients.

The second method is to soften the onion before adding the peppers (and later the tomatoes). This is my preferred method.

Like Caponata, Peperonata is eaten cold (room temperature). The flavours mature and it keeps well in the fridge for days.

Vary amounts accordingly and as you can see in the photos I just wanted it for two people.

red (and yellow) peppers, 1 k
tomatoes, 2 ripe, peeled and diced
onion, 1-2 sliced
extra virgin olive oil, ¼ cup
fresh basil leaves or sprigs,  a few and to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a little sugar and red wine vinegar

Clean and cut the peppers into thin strips.
Sauté the onions in the oil.
When the onions are soft, raise the heat and add the peppers. Add seasoning, toss on high heat until they are well coated and beginning to fry.
Add the tomatoes and some basil, cover and cook until the peppers are soft (about 20-30 minutes).
Remove the lid, raise heat and cook until any excess liquid has evaporated.

**Like my cousin Lidia from Augusta (south of Catania) I always add a teaspoon of sugar and a dash of vinegar during the final minutes of cooking. This provides that classical Sicilian sweet and sour flavour.

In other parts of Sicily, it is common to add 2-3 potatoes: either part cook chip-size potatoes and add them half way through cooking or fry uncooked potatoes at the same time as the onions.

Add more fresh basil at the time of serving.

 

ONE OF MY FAVOURITE VEGETABLES – Cime di Rape

I call these greens (as my parents did) Cime di rape – literally translated as turnip tops. You may also see them named as Cime di rapa. This is not a mispelling: rapa is the singular and rape is the plural and I guess in my family we called them rape because we ate the tops from more than one turnip.

cime-di-rape-300x198

You may also see or hear them  referred to as broccoli rabe, or friarielli or broccolleti or rapini – same vegetable, but called by different names in various parts of Italy. These mustard greens are mainly grown and appreciated in southern Italy.

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I very much like this bitter green; it is sold in bunches, and is very much in season now (autumn through to winter).

I have written about this mysterious, leafy vegetable before. I eat them often and sauté  them in garlic and chilli either as a pasta sauce or as a contorno – a side vegetable.

Usually I use orecchiette – the ear shaped pasta from the region of Italy known as Puglia. This time, having run out of orecchiette I used penne instead (a brave thing to admit!)

I always present the pasta with pecorino rather than parmesan cheese.the strong taste of the greens requires a strong cheese.

Pasta & cime_0276

See:

Cime di rape

Orecchiette e broccolleti selvatici

Rape (turnips)

Enter cime di rape in the search button on the blog and this vegetable will be mentioned in several other posts.

Substitute the cicoretta (chicory) with cime di rape.