Tag Archives: Red Peppers

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.

 

RED PEPPER (Capsicum) SOUP

This is an intensely flavoured and heavily fragrant soup that can be served warm or chilled.

In some recipes the peppers (also called capsicums) are charred or grilled and then cooked in the soup.

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There are many variations to this soup, some use butter or cream to thicken and enrich the soup. Different herbs like tarragon, basil, coriander, or fresh oregano can replace the thyme and I have seen recipes that include an additional vegetable, for example a bulb of fennel, leek or a couple of red tomatoes, but whatever the recipe you are aiming for a very concentrated, soup with Mediterranean flavours – you could almost choose one of the countries and vary the ingredients to suit (for example for Italian tastes, I would chose olive oil in preference to butter and select basil or oregano as my herbs, for a Middle Eastern flavours, coriander etc).

My friend made this very simple soup that relies heavily on the flavours of the peppers. We are staying with her on the Gold Coast in Queensland and red peppers are very much in season here. Our soup was accompanied with slices of toasted, crusty bread spread with a paste made of feta, olive oil, a little lemon juice and thinly sliced spring onion. I liked this more than adding a dollop of cream or yogurt at the point of serving. Goat’s curd (chevre) could also be used instead of the feta.

INGREDIENTS

large red peppers, 6 cut into small pieces
large onions, 2 chopped

extra virgin olive oil, ½ cup

 

vegetable or chicken stock, 4 cups

fresh thyme, to taste

salt and black pepper to taste

cloves of garlic, 3 large crushed

PROCESSES

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions the red peppers and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add garlic and wine and cook quickly on high heat, to evaporate the wine. Add stock, thyme, salt and pepper, cover and simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 30-40 minutes.

Puree the mixture with a blender/ food processor until smooth.

Add a few chopped herbs for colour – we ran out of thyme and in this instance added a little chopped parsley and coriander – maybe a little bit too much of a melange and fusion of flavours, but it was delicious.

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