I was unfamiliar with the dish Peperonata before discovering it in a cookbook and making it as an appetizer for a recent dinner party. It’s essentially a pepper stew (this particular recipe makes a spicy Peperonata, but there are endless variations) that works great with fresh summer vegetables and herbs as an antipasto. We found most of the ingredients at the farmers’ market—sweet red peppers, red onions, fresh herbs, and mozzarella and a crusty baguette on which to serve the stewed peppers. The impressive dish was beautiful and the flavors were complex. Definitely a great way to kick-off our Italian-themed dinner.
Peperonata (from Earth to Table; serves 6)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp chili flakes
4 large sweet red peppers (about 1 3/4 lbs.) thinly sliced lengthwise
3 cups sliced red onions
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 tbsp capers
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp fresh oregano leaves, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large skillet, heat 3 tbsp of the oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and chili flakes; saute until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add peppers, onions and thyme; reduce heat to medium and saute until peppers are softened, about 6 minutes. Add capers and the remaining oil; saute until flavors are combined, about 1 minute. Transfer pepper mixture to a shallow plastic or stainless steel dish.
Turn of heat, add vinegar to skillet and reduce by half. (The residual heat will be enough to reduce this small amount.) Using a rubber spatula, scrape vinegar over pepper mixture. Stir in oregano. (The heat from the peppers will help release the flavor of the oregano.) Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Make ahead: Let cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.) This spicy dish goes very well with silky smooth buffalo mozzarella and crusty fried bread.
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