Peperonata is a sauce. Or a kind of relish. Not exactly a condiment, but surely it could be. You could even eat it plain with a piece of toast – or as an appetizer on baguette slices you’ve toasted. It means “stewed sweet peppers,” and that’s exactly what it is. Note the tiny basil and parsley flecks in the sauce.
Last week I promised I’d give you a recipe from my write-up about bell peppers, and some other recipes that were at the forefront of my mind took first place. And, truth be told, I think I liked the scones and tea sandwiches better than I liked this bell pepper dish. Not that it wasn’t good – it was – but it wasn’t great. And yet, some people might think this was terrific. If you’re a lover of bell peppers, you might just think this was the cat’s meow. The taste is gentle – nothing about it pushes the taste envelope – and sometimes that’s a good thing. When you want to have some vegetables, or in my case I wanted a sauce to serve on these stuffed eggplant things, well, this might be the right thing. Last time I served these (they’re a ready-made product from Personal Gourmet) I made a creamy tomato sauce. This time I wanted something altogether different.
The recipe came from the book I told you about when I wrote up the essay about bell peppers, How to Pick a Peach by Russ Parsons. The recipe is also available online at the Los Angeles Times. He got this recipe from a book called Honey from a Weed: Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, the Cyclades and Apulia by Patience Gray. Parsons recommended that of the 4 recipes included in the book, his favorite was tuna-stuffed peppers. But they were meant as an appetizer, finger food actually, and it just didn’t appeal to me. I had all the ingredients for the peperonata, so I went with it.
It was quite easy to make – the onions were gently sautéed in olive oil, then you add some chopped tomatoes (not a lot), the roasted and peeled peppers and a roasted jalapeno. A bit of red wine and that cooks a short time and then you add a kind of basil-parsley pesto (pictured at left) – it contains garlic, basil and parsley only. That cooks a really short time and it’s done.
You can eat it hot, room temp or cold. In the finished picture at the top, you can see the flecks of basil or parsley on the peppers. The green mixture kind of muddies the color, I thought, but it’s the flavor that’s important, ya’ know? The color contrast of the peppers with the pesto (above) was so pretty. Then it was gone . . . once I stirred it in.
What’s GOOD: it’s easy. It’s tasty, although not off the charts – at least not my charts. It’s versatile – it could be mixed with pasta too.
What’s NOT: only that it wasn’t a “wow.” But if you like more subtle flavors, have a bunch of bell peppers to use, this mixture works!
* Exported from MasterCook *
Recipe By: From Patience Gray’s Honey from a Weed (also online at Los Angeles Times)
Serving Size: 6
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion — sliced
3/4 cup chopped tomatoes — seeded
5 bell peppers — preferably a mixture of red and yellow, roasted, peeled and seeded, cut into bite-size pieces
3/4 cup red wine
1/2 jalapeno pepper — roasted, peeled and seeded
2 cloves garlic
1 cup fresh basil leaves — chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Note: This makes a lot – make a half recipe and you’ll probably have plenty!
1. Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it softens, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bell peppers and cook briefly. Add the red wine and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, another 10 to 15 minutes. Check frequently toward the end, as the peppers will want to stick to the bottom of the pan.
2. Meanwhile, pound the jalapeno and garlic into a paste in a mortar with another 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the basil and parsley; pound to a paste. Add 3 tablespoons of the oil and stir, grinding more with the pestle. The sauce should have a rather loose consistency, somewhat more liquid than pesto. [I did this with some difficulty in a blender - had to add a little more oil to get the mixture going.]
3. Stir the sauce into the peppers, taste for salt and heat through, 2 minutes. This is good hot, cold or anywhere in between.
Per Serving: 163 Calories; 12g Fat (69.0% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 25mg Sodium.