Savor the flavor of Southern Italy with a batch of mouthwatering Peperonata. This time-honored, inherently vegan dish is a rustic vegetable stew made with a perfect blend of fresh ingredients. It’s a healthy and simple dish that you can serve in many different ways.
What is Peperonata?
Peperonata (also spelled pepperonata) is a stew made with bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, olive oil, and garlic. It’s a popular Italian dish and has a few regional recipe variations.
Cooking low and slow intensifies the naturally sweet and tangy bell peppers while breaking down the vegetable fibers. In the end, the bell peppers literally melt in your mouth!
Why You’ll Love This Peperonata Recipe
- This delicious recipe is made with just a few simple ingredients that are easy to find in grocery stores or farmer’s markets.
- A batch of stewed bell peppers is a budget-friendly dish. The ingredients are usually inexpensive, especially when they’re in season.
- You can put your spin on this recipe by adding other summer veggies and fresh flavors.
- Italian peperonata is naturally gluten-free and dairy-free.
Ingredients You’ll Need
Here’s what I use to make basic peperonata:
- Extra-Virgin Olive oil – With so few ingredients, the quality of each one matters, so be sure to use a fruity, light-tasting olive oil here. No substitutions, please!
- Onion – If cooked long enough, the onions eventually disintegrate into the stew, so you end up with deep, savory flavors without the distinguishable onion texture.
- Garlic – This dish is deeply rooted in Italian tradition, after all, so of course, there’s garlic!
- Bell peppers – I like my peperonata colorful, so I use red, orange, and yellow bell peppers. You can use the same color, but remember, red bell peppers typically have the best flavor. If you would like to use green bell peppers, it’s best to mix them with one or two of the sweeter colors.
- Salt – Helps improve and balance the dimensional flavors.
- Diced tomatoes – Use canned low-sodium tomatoes unless tomatoes are in season -in which case, fresh tomatoes are the best choice.
- Balsamic vinegar – Balsamic vinegar builds on the umami, aka the flavor that keeps your taste buds wanting more. Red wine vinegar and white wine vinegar also work. But, again, quality is key!
How to Prepare Bell Peppers for Stewing
Sweet peppers are the main ingredient in peperonata. Here is how you can quickly prep them for stewing:
- wash the peppers under running water;
- remove the stem and seeds;
- cut the peppers into 3 or 4 large chunks;
- remove the white membrane;
- slice the peppers into thin strips.
How to Make Pepperonata
Peperonata is very easy to make, and you can have it ready in just a few easy steps:
Step 1. Sauté the onion and garlic.
Start by heating olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet or a Dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and cook, occasionally stirring, until they become soft and translucent (about 3 minutes). Add the garlic, and cook just until the garlic is fragrant and your kitchen smells divine (about 30 seconds).
Step 2. Sauté the bell peppers.
Add the bell peppers to the skillet and stir, ensuring they’re coated evenly with olive oil. Then, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peppers have softened slightly (about 7 minutes).
Step 3. Simmer with the tomatoes and seasonings.
Season with salt, add the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar, and stir. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the bell peppers reach the desired consistency.
Step 4. Let it stand and serve.
Remove the skillet from the heat, and let it stand covered for about 10 minutes, giving the flavors more time to wake up and mingle. Serve hot or cold, topped with fresh chopped herbs.
If, at any point during the cooking process, the peppers heat past a gentle simmer, remove the skillet from the heat momentarily and lower the heat.
Traditionally, peperonata is cooked until the peppers completely break down and turn into a sauce. However, if you prefer the peppers to have some discernable shape and texture, simply reduce the cooking time.
Sprinkling freshly chopped herbs (like basil, parsley, or cilantro) over the finished stew adds flavor. Feel free to add sprigs of fresh herbs to the pot, like bay leaf, oregano, rosemary, and thyme, as it simmers.
To make it spicy, stew the sweet bell peppers with one of their more intense relatives like a jalapeno, Calabrian, cubanelle, or serrano. You can also add a pinch of red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper flakes to give it a kick.
These healthy ingredients are also often stewed with bell peppers to make peperonata:
- cannellini beans
How to Serve Peperonata
Peperonata is very versatile. Have no fear if you’re wondering how you will finish a giant pot of super soft and succulent stewed peppers.
You can use it in many different ways. Peperonata is a side dish, sauce, appetizer, relish, topping, and spread all at the same time! And it’s delicious served hot or cold.
Here are a few ideas on how you can serve it:
- add it to fried eggs or frittata;
- put it in a sandwich or wrap;
- serve it as a side dish;
- add it to a grain and vegetable bowl;
- serve over toasted bread or as crostini;
- add it to soup;
- put on top of chicken breast;
- serve with grilled meats;
- use it as a sauce;
- and more!
Storing & Freezing
Storing: Once cooled, transfer to a glass jar or container with a secure lid, and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Freezing: Likewise, you can freeze it for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to use it, thaw it in the fridge. You can eat it cold or reheat it on the stovetop over low heat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do my cooked bell peppers taste bitter?
Out-of-season bell peppers typically cause bitterness. However, you can combat this with a spoonful of sugar to balance the acidity.
Can I make this in the slow cooker?
Yes! Simply add everything to the inner pot and cook on low until the bell peppers are softened to your preference.
More Easy Vegetable Recipes You Might Like
- Peas & Carrots Recipe
- Oven Roasted Cauliflower
- Braised German Red Cabbage
- Easy Sauteed Beets
- Roasted Root Vegetables
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 bell peppers, sliced into thin strips
- salt to taste
- 1 can (14 oz/398 ml) low sodium diced tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- fresh herbs for serving (optional)
- In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the bell peppers. Stir to make sure they are evenly covered with olive oil. Cover the skillet and cook the peppers until they are soft, for about 7 minutes. Check on the peppers from time to time and stir if needed.
- Season the peppers with salt. Add the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar and stir.
- Cover the skillet. Reduce the heat and simmer the peppers with tomatoes for about 15 to 20 minutes until they reach the desired consistency. Take off the heat and let it stand covered to allow the flavors to blend. Serve hot or cold.
1. Store in the refrigerator in a glass jar or container with a tight lid for up to 3 days. Freeze for up to 3 months.
2. Serve hot or cold.
Nutrition InformationYield 5 Serving Size 1/5 of recipe
Amount Per Serving Calories 49Total Fat 0.3gSaturated Fat 0.1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0.2gCholesterol 0mgSodium 49mgCarbohydrates 10.7gFiber 2.7gSugar 6.3gProtein 1.7g
Nutrition facts provided on this website are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a qualified health care provider for personalized diet advice and make sure that each of the ingredients is allowed in your diet.