"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Perfect Peperonata

by Julie on September 4, 2012

in Green Goddess, Vegetarian

I can’t explain how my mind works. Why would I look at the jumble of planters on my back porch, brimming over with nasturtium and geraniums and dead mint and orphans from last summer’s tomato plant and notice the basil thriving amidst it all and think, “I should make some peperonata for J.’s BBQ tonight.”

I guess it means there’s hope. Because I not only thought it, I made it, and it turned out better than I expected. And I never expect much from myself.

Indeed, I was pretty much planning to just pick up a six-pack of beer to bring instead, because I’d probably botch the job. Peperonata. Ptfh. Who the hell do I think I am, anyway?

I was actually a little proud of myself.


Yeah, it’s Italian. And it’s a basic dish with a lot of different variations depending on the region. This version is most basic of all, which means it couldn’t be easier. Just use fresh veg and you’re good to go.

From The Vegetarian Table, Italy, by Julia Della Croce

5 tablespoons olive oil
6 sweet bell peppers (choose different colors so it looks cool; red and yellow and orange. Wash, de-rib and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Set aside

(And just in case you’re like me and might not know otherwise, NO, green bell peppers don’t taste the same so don’t use them. I learned this the hard way a few years ago.)

1 large onion, finely diced.
4 garlic cloves, bruised (this means smashed but not chopped)
6 large, ripe tomatoes OR 1 and 1/2 cup canned plum, diced and drained.
6 large basil leaves, shredded

Here’s what you do.

First, gently saute those onions and garlic until soft, about 10 to 12 minutes…

…or until the house smells glorious…

Then add your sweet peppers and saute until coated, about five minutes

Everyone into the pool!


Add your tomatoes, season expertly and cover, cooking gently and stirring occasionally, until peppers are tender about 20-25 minutes.

…and try to do all of this in a skillet that is big enough AND has a cover that fits. Or you’ll have to switch pans midway, like I did…(cough)

Here’s what you get for your troubles:

A lovely taste of summer!

This is so good even the kids will eat it, sandwiched between pulls of fresh French or Sourdough baguette. You could also just eat it as a side dish to something else. Don’t ask me what. I’m crap with pairing food.

These worked great on homemade tortillas at J’s BBQ. People remarked favorably!

Best of all – these get better after a day in the ‘fridge.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jayna September 4, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Congratulations and thank you for the inspiration! I used this as the basis of my dinner this evening. I added feta cheese and slathered it onto crispy baked tofu. I will definitely cook the true recipe when I acquire the proper ingredients.


Dorothy September 6, 2012 at 3:11 pm

That looks GREAT!


Nikki September 11, 2012 at 10:04 am

Tried this the other night. I’m less of a cooking goddess than you though, so I used jarred, ground up garlic, and completely forgot about the basil (I lost the recipe printout, so I did it from memory). Hubby and I liked it, the kids (who admittedly love veggies, but only uncooked) disliked it.

Thanks for the blog!!



Julie September 11, 2012 at 11:06 am

No cooking goddesses here! I’m glad you liked it!


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