Peperonata is one of the most classic Italian side dish and probably every Italian family has its own recipe. In fact, although it’s based on a few simple ingredients such as bell peppers, onion and tomato passata, there are several versions. Some add red hot chilli pepper for a spicy chili peperonata; others a bit of vinegar and sugar for a sweet and sour version.
We’re going to show you the classic Italian Peperonata recipe. It’s a simple and fast recipe. You can use the kind of bell peppers you prefer, as long as they are fresh and fragrant; better if a colorful mix: yellow, red and green; variety is essential, not only because they give a touch of color, but also a special taste to the dish!
We prefer to toast the peppers in the oven to better remove their skin and then to stew them in a pan with the other ingredient. The result is a more digestible dish. Italian bell pepper stew is also an excellent vegetarian/vegan dish, very rich in vitamins and with very few calories.
Italian Peperonata recipe is excellent hot or lukewarm, together with roasted or grilled meat. In summer this pepper stew is particularly good eaten cold, with cheeses and cold cuts. Peperonata is perfect even on hot bruschetta and it’s really excellent served as pasta sauce!
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How to Make Peperonata Recipe (Italian Bell Pepper Stew)
- Prep Time: 20 Min
- Cook Time: 30 Min
- 3/4 bell peppers (depending on size) of mixed colors: yellow, green and red
- 1 medium onion
- 200 g (7 oz) of tomato passata
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and left whole
- fine salt to taste
- 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Step 1) – Wash the peppers and place them on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Transfer them to the preheated oven at 200 °C (390 F) and cook for 10 minutes, turning them from time to time so that they cook evenly.
Step 2) – When the peppers are roasted, let them cool slightly and then peel them, remove seeds and filaments and cut them into slices.
Step 3) – In a non-stick frying pan, make a soffritto: heat five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, together with the garlic and sliced onion. Sauté for about 10 minutes on low heat covered with a lid. Then add the bell peppers.
We leave the garlic whole so as to remove it before serving. The dish is thus more digestible. If you really like the taste of garlic and you have an iron stomach, then just cut it into slices and leave it inside. Be careful not to use a lot of garlic, otherwise it will cover the flavor of the peppers.
Step 4) – Mix the peppers with the onion and cook for a few minutes over low heat, then remove the garlic clove and add the tomato passata.
Step 5) – Mix well, add fine salt to taste, then cook over low heat for about 20 minutes. Peperonata recipe is ready. Serve lukewarm or cold.
Peperonata can be kept in the fridge for two days closed in an airtight container. Freezing is not recommended.
Although peperonata recipe can be made throughout the year, the perfect time to make this Italian bell pepper stew recipe is summer, when the ingredients are more fragrant and flavorful. For this reason, Peperonata is often prepared, in large quantities, and kept in sterilized jars for the winter.
So let’s see how to store peperonata in jars for the winter season:
Step 1)– Take a rather large pot, fill it with cold water, then put a kitchen towel on the bottom. Get hold of some glass jars with vacuum seal button lids. Open and immerse them in the cold water together with the lids. Turn on the heat and bring the water to a boil. This way you’ll sterilize the glass jars.
Step 2)– After about 10 minutes from the boiling, remove them with kitchen tongs (which you left a few minutes immersed in boiling water to sterilize them) and put them to cool on a kitchen towel.
Step 3)– Now you can fill the jars with Peperonata and enjoy it in the winter as if you just made it!
Peperonata Recipe: Variations and Tips
For Peperonata recipe, you can use fresh and very ripe tomatoes instead of the tomato passata.
You can flavor this pepper stew with fresh basil or parsley according to your tastes.
For a much tastier Peperonata, you can add red hot chlli pepper or some chopped anchovies in oil.
For a sweet and sour Peperonata, before adding the tomato, add a heaping spoonful of sugar and about 100 ml of apple vinegar.
Curiosity: Peperonata Umbra
In Umbria region they use only green bell peppers to make Peperonata Umbra. It’s a tasty and genuine side dish made with green bell peppers, white onions and very ripe tomatoes. For this reason this dish is called “la Bandiera”, or “the Flag”, because green, white and red are the colors of the Italian flag.
Unlike the traditional peperonata, “la Bandiera” requires a longer cooking which serves to make the dish more creamy.
Peperone di Carmagnola: a Gastronomic Excellence of Piedmont
The bell pepper from Carmagnola, a small town near Turin, is considered one of the best Italian qualities and a real gastronomic excellence of Piedmont. This PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) product can be bright red or intense yellow.
This Piedmontese geographical area, with particularly fertile soil, is also famous for the cultivation of delicious and renowned leeks, perfect for a good traditional Leek Risotto!
Carmagnola bell pepper is a vegetable that grows in flat areas characterized by sandy soils and without the use of chemical fertilizers. The hand picking of this vegetable takes place around the end of July and lasts until October. To best enjoy Carmagnola pepper you need to prepare it raw in pinzimonio or let it dry in the oven.
Traditional recipes offer it in bagna caöda, as a side dish for roasts and boiled meats in Peperonata, stuffed with minced meat, aromatic herbs and eggs or preserved in oil or vinegar. It is also possible to experiment with less usual combinations with crustaceans, or more daring with chocolate.
Definitely, a pepper that places no limits on the creativity of cooks and the imagination of the greedy.