September is my favorite month by far and away—the frenetic pace of summer and its accompanying heat waves seem to break almost simultaneously. Yet, despite the turn toward colder months, all of my favorite summer produce is still producing in volume. Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant appear alongside the cooler-loving greens and start-of-fall starches like sweet potato, parsnips, carrots, and squash.
September is also the height of preserving season for me—when I get the late summer veg cooked down and into a freezer for a months-down-the-road thaw. I first learned to make peperonata, an Italian dish of stewed peppers, at Ballymaloe, where I went to cooking school. It can be made in a small batch with a single pepper, or in a giant one with lugs and lugs of peppers that need to be salvaged at the end of the season.
I usually roast peppers until they are charred on the outside, let them cool, and then peel away the blackened skin. At some point, I couldn’t be bothered, made peperonata without skinning the peppers first, and was perfectly happy with the result.
When roasting the sweet potatoes (or any other vegetable for that matter), I usually go one of two ways: roasting in a frying pan or on a foil-lined sheet tray. When I need the veg to roast more quickly (say, if I’ve waited too long to start dinner), I start the browning in a frying pan on the stove, then transfer to the oven to finish. If I have time to spare, I line a sheet pan with foil and roast in the oven the entire time. The foil makes for easier clean-up.
I put just about any green on a dish like this and find it a good way to use up the random leaves left in my fridge from other recipes. A handful of arugula, a few leaves of kale, even shaved vegetables like radish, cauliflower, or kohlrabi would be perfectly at home, tossed with some olive oil and a pinch of salt to finish the dish. You could use a vinaigrette to dress the greens, but the peperonata brings a nice amount of acidity to the plate, so I’m happy with just olive oil. If you crave more punch, add more punch. —abraberens
Test Kitchen Notes
Every month, in Eat Your Vegetables, chef, Ruffage cookbook author, and former farmer Abra Berens shares a seasonal recipe that puts vegetables front and center (where they should be!). Missed an installment? Head here to catch up. —The Editors
- Prep time 25 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour
- Serves 4
chile flakes (optional)
rosemary sprig (optional)
medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
garlic cloves, minced
white wine or hard cider
bell peppers, any color except green, seeded and sliced thinly
medium sweet potatoes, cut into large wedges
Extra-virgin olive oil
greens, such as shaved red cabbage, arugula, baby kale, or spinach
- Heat a glug of neutral oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chile flakes and rosemary sprig (if using) to briefly fry until fragrant. Add the onion and garlic with a big pinch of salt, and sweat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and reduce by half. Add the peppers and stew, stirring occasionally, until they’re soft, about 30 minutes.
- While the peppers are stewing, heat the oven to 400°F. Toss the sweet potato wedges with a glug of olive oil, the smoked paprika, and a big pinch of salt. Lay out on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast until the sweet potatoes are tender and deeply caramelized, about 30 minutes.
- When the peppers are tender, remove the rosemary sprig. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
- Distribute the potato wedges on a platter, top with several spoonfuls of peperonata. Dress the greens with a hefty glug of olive oil and a pinch of salt, and pile on top.