Make Ahead

Peperonata (Red Pepper Stew)

July 12, 2015
2 Ratings
Photo by Emiko
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Some make their peperonata by first cooking the onion and tomatoes into a sauce, then adding the peppers at the end, while others cook the onion and peppers first, finishing with the tomatoes. Roman writer Ada Boni has a recipe from her 1929 cookbook "Il Talismano della Felicità" (“The Talisman of Happiness,” which was published in a very abridged version in English as "The Talisman") where the peppers, onions, and peeled and seeded tomatoes all go into the pot at the same time and are doused with some olive oil and salt, placed on a very low heat, and covered for an hour so that the whole thing slowly, slowly stews together. Right at the end, a glass of vinegar goes over the top and it's ready.

I love the ease of her method: Pop it all in and let it cook slowly and steadily on its own. And because I love the sweetness of peppers too much, I don't add vinegar. But feel free to adjust as you please. —Emiko

What You'll Need
  • 3 to 4 round tomatoes, medium ripe
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 large red bell peppers, stems and seeds removed
  • handful of basil, torn
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Score a cross in the bottoms of the tomatoes and blanch for about 30 seconds in boiling water. Immediately place them in a bowl of cool water until they're cool enough to manage and it's easy to peel off the skins. Chop into quarters, remove seeds, and dice the flesh. Set aside.
  2. Slice peppers into thin strips a few inches long.
  3. In a deep skillet, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over low heat and add the onion, the peppers, and tomatoes with a good pinch of salt and some black pepper. Cover and let cook, stirring and checking occasionally, until the peppers have melted down into very soft, silky stew and the tomatoes have broken down into a thick sauce, about 1 hour. If needed, splash with water every now and then.
  4. Remove from the heat, scattering with basil, and serve at room temperature.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lorenzo Romeo
    Lorenzo Romeo
  • Clarke Ching
    Clarke Ching
  • USED2B718
  • Stephanie B.
    Stephanie B.
  • Smaug

21 Reviews

Carol B. September 15, 2018
I made this Peperonata tonight using 5 sweet long red peppers, heritage tomatoes and a red onion. Followed the directions by slicing the ingredients, putting them all in the pan together, adding olive oil, salt and pepper and allowing to simmer for an hour. Meanwhile I baked a couple potatoes in the oven for an hour. Put the two together, the hot baked potato covered with the peperonata, and had the most delicious meal I've had in a long time. Thanks for posting this recipe !
Carol L. July 28, 2016
I was introduced to this dish in the early 50's, my neighbour was Italian, have it weekly. I just use peppers at times and add a beat up egg or eggs. DElicious sandwich. I also use on a hot dog bun with left over meat balls , again delicious. STervy 01
Sarah V. November 3, 2015
Was tasty, but soooooooo much heartburn MAN!
Lorenzo R. October 31, 2015
Peperonata is one of my favorite pasta sauce/party side offered together with some bread. The version here is a great quick way to get a delicious versatile side. However my Italian roots oblige me to point out that if you want to get the full sweetness of the peppers and avoid the peel strands going around you should sear them and then peel them before mixing them in the sauce (it's not overly complicated and it takes around 10 min for 8-10 pepper).
Emiko November 2, 2015
Hi Lorenzo! This recipe is adapted from Ada Boni's famous Il Talismano della Felicita' cookbook - she wrote it in the 1920s from her hometown of Rome. It's one of the 'bibles' of Italian cooking. I have never seen Italians peeling the peppers before cooking them for this dish, whether in the classic cookbooks or tasting this dish in trattorie or at people's homes here in Italy (but fresh tomatoes are always peeled, of course). I personally cook peperonata pretty much weekly (when in season) here in Tuscany where I've lived the last ten years and I have never peeled them or ever actually had this issue that you mention of peel strands going around. I'm not sure whereabouts you live but could it possibly be a difference in the quality of the produce? I'm not quite sure. But in my experience the peels (the skins?) have never been an issue. More on this dish here from my Regional Italian Food column:
Lorenzo R. November 2, 2015
Hi Emiko,
Could be that this is something regional, I learned this from my Sicilian (Catania) grandma. The rationale behind was that pepper that are not cooked thoroughly are more difficult to digest, however if you cook for long the peppers the peel comes off and it's not nice. Also, the peel takes away from the sweetens. So we peel them first and the problem is solved. Give it a try and let me know :)
Clarke C. October 31, 2015
Coincidentally, I tried peperonata for the first time about a month ago and I liked it so much my wife made me a batch which I've used on many meals since, instead of ketchup. It lasted a week and just yesterday I resolved to make a batch every week. And then this recipe turns up :)
Emiko October 31, 2015
I agree, it makes a fantastic addition to anything!
USED2B718 October 29, 2015
With Summer over, do you think canned whole tomatoes could be used as a substitute?
Emiko October 31, 2015
Absolutely fine! Sometimes (when good tomatoes aren't around) this is actually the better option for a tastier dish!
Stephanie B. July 28, 2015
Made this last night and it was amazing! Also a super simple weeknight recipe. I served it with a dollop of ricotta on the side, and piled the cheese and the peperonata on crusty bread. I also didn't like the idea of adding vinegar to the stew; instead I drizzled a little good quality balsamic when serving.
KellyBcooks July 28, 2015
Heck yes!! I absolutely adore this recipe! What an elegant, bright flavor to bring to the summer recipe repertoire. I really like the slow-cooking process (hands-off practically), and the texture is unimaginable; the silkiness which slips on and off the spoon and right into your watering mouth, gosh! I served this on toasted baguette, pinched off some salty parmesan chunks to sprinkle on top, and what a success. Great as a little not-so-boring lunch the day after too!
kaleandsalt July 24, 2015
I made the recipe even though I generally don't like bell peppers, and I am so glad I did. I have never enjoyed them as much as I did in this dish. It was delicious, rich and elegant. I served the peppers on rounds of bread spread with a thin layer of goat cheese as a tartine and it was a huge hit. I look forward to eating them over polenta tomorrow, and will definitely be making this again!
Emiko July 25, 2015
Goats cheese is a great idea!
Smaug July 24, 2015
Why do the tomatoes have to be round? In my experience of using peppers in this kind of preparation, they tend (if ripe to begin with) to peel themselves during cooking, leaving a bunch of curled up pepper skins in the finished dish- harmless, but not really what you want.
Emiko July 24, 2015
Hi, simply because round tomatoes are much easier to peel than ribbed ones :) And as you can see in the photos, there are no problems with curled up pepper skins in the finished dish. This is a dish I make once a week in the summer and I've never had a problem with it (and I believe no Italians do either -- when you see this recipe in Italian you never have to peel the pepper skins).
Smaug July 24, 2015
Never had a problem peeling a ripe tomato of any shape- might be better to include it as a suggestion rather than an instruction. I grow my own peppers, they're probably riper than what you buy.
Emiko July 25, 2015
I doubt it -- good, ripe, farm fresh peppers are typical market produce in Italy! And of course you are free to use whatever tomatoes you wish.
Smaug July 25, 2015
No doubt they're riper than what you get here, I seriously doubt they're picked truly ripe. It's just not practical, and most varieties ripen fairly well off the plant- certainly far better than tomatoes. Anyway, are you in Italy?
jayaymeye September 2, 2015
I just made this--delicious! But I didn't bother peeling the tomatoes. I don't really notice the difference.
Live P. July 19, 2015
I love the bright colors. This looks absolutely delicious. <3