I have a real Italian classic for you today, Peperonata, which is a simple stew made with multi-coloured peppers, tomatoes and onions, traditionally served as a side dish, especially in the south of the country.
Now, in terms of the ingredients used, just like with many other Italian dishes, this recipe is open to debate and if you google it you’re likely to find a billion variations: some will use garlic instead of onions, some will use both, some recipes use additional herbs like oregano while some people will even add potatoes to the mix…
This is my personal spin on this classic and the recipe that my mother and grandmother have used for years. I like to use passata instead of chopped tomatoes or fresh tomatoes as I find it gives the dish a sweeter flavour (and it makes a scrummy sauce to dip bread in!) and, for the same reason, I always opt for onions instead of garlic as a base.
The lovely little capers are just the icing on the cake and they pack big flavour in such a tiny package! If you’ve never tried them before they are a little tangy, briney and somewhat lemony. They are an ingredient that is often overlooked but they add such a lovely flavour to all kids of sauces (especially tomato-based ones in my opinion!) that you must give them a try.
This recipe can be made without capers but they are very cheap and will last for ages in the fridge so I definitely invite you to get some next time you do your food shop and let me know what you think.
So without further ado, here is how you can make this Italian classic in just 30 minutes!
- 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive olive oil
- 2 small onions, sliced
- 3 peppers (one red, one yellow and one green), deseeded and cut into 3cm pieces
- 5 tbsp of passata
- 2 tsp of small capers
- Sea salt to taste
- Whether your capers are preserved in salt, brine or vinegar, place them in a small sieve and rinse them thoroughly to remove any excess salt or vinegar and let their delicate flavour shine through. Pat them dry with paper towel and set aside.
- Heat the oil over medium heat and fry the onions until soft and translucent. Then add the peppers and continue cooking for a further 2 minutes.
- Add 100ml of hot water and cook covered for 10 minutes, stirring every now and then until the peppers have started to soften.
- Add the passata and the capers, stir well, then add another 100ml of water and continue cooking, covered, for approximately 15 minutes until the peppers are very soft.
- Uncover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Always taste for seasoning before adding any salt and adjust if necessary.
Although this recipe is traditionally made as a side dish in Italy, it makes the perfect condiment for pasta, especially wholewheat. Simply prepare the peperonata following the instructions above, cook your pasta according to packet instructions and stir in chopped fresh basil before serving.
This recipe can also be made using frozen sliced mixed peppers. In this case, just follow the recipe but only add water if the dish is getting too dry.
I’m looking for more inspiration on how to cook with capers. Have you tried cooking with them? What did you think and what did you prepare?