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Peperonata (Stewed Peppers)

By Cheryl Forberg
Image of Peperonata (Stewed Peppers)
Peperonata (“stewed peppers”) is one of the most popular recipes found throughout Italy. In itself, it is a vegan recipe composed of bell peppers, onion, and sometimes tomato, sauteed in olive oil. Garlic, olives, capers, basil, oregano, or chili flakes may be added and sometimes a splash of balsamic or sprinkle of sugar is used to balance the acid of the tomatoes and/or peppers. It can be served hot as an accompaniment to pasta, bruschetta, meatballs, or grilled sausages; or cold as an antipasto with cold meat and cheeses (charcuterie).

Traveling through Liguria and Tuscany recently, we found peperonata on many menus in the contorni or side dish section. I ordered it whenever I could. In Pienza, I enjoyed peperonata while tasting a variety of fresh and hard sheep’s milk pecorino cheese and local ham.
Years ago, when I worked the pasta station with Wolfgang Puck in San Francisco, I made peperonata daily and served it for lunch with thick hand-rolled pappardelle and grilled fennel sausages.

This is an easy version and is very adaptable with your favorite ingredients and meals. Buon appetito!

Peperonata (Stewed Peppers)
Serves 4 (makes about three cups)
Image of ingredients
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
¾ cup chopped yellow onion
¾ cup diced fresh or canned tomato
½ teaspoon salt
3 Melissa’s bell peppers (1 red, 1 yellow and 1 orange)
Salt and pepper
Garnish: fresh basil or Italian parsley

Image of sauteed onions
Core the bell peppers. Remove seeds and white membrane; discard. Cut the peppers lengthwise into 1-inch strips. Cut the strips into squares. There will be about 3 cups. Finely chop any remaining bell pepper scraps. There will be about ¾ cup chopped scraps. In a medium sauté pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until soft but not browned. Turn the heat down if necessary.
Image of sauteed bell peppers
Add the finely chopped bell peppers to the pan and continue to sauté for 3 to 4 minutes longer, stirring regularly. Add tomato and ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir well and simmer over low heat for another 3 to 4 minutes. Continue to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes longer, adding a tablespoon or two of water if needed, to keep from sticking. The mixture will be very soft.
Image of sauteed peppers
Add the bell pepper squares and ¼ teaspoon of salt to the pan, mix, and continue cooking the peperonata with a lid on for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Image of grilled peppers
Remove the lid, season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer the peperonata for 5 to 10 minutes longer, without the lid. Some of the juices will evaporate. The pepper squares will be soft and may have a slight crunch.
Image of Peperonata (Stewed Peppers)
Garnish with fresh basil or Italian parsley and serve hot, warm or cold.
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