by Valerie on September 9, 2009 · 6 comments

Update July 4, 2011 – I am submitting this recipe to both Real Sustenance’s Seasonal Sunday and Slightly Indulgent Tuesday over at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free – this is a wonderful summer recipe and I encourage you all to try it!


I was never one to like bell peppers as a child. My mom was actually pretty wise in that she would ask me to taste something, but if I really did not want to, she did not press, though she would often wheedle a bit. Usually something along the lines of how I was missing out. At the age of 5, I figured this was just a thinly veiled attempt to convince me. Now that I love bell peppers (though not particularly in their raw state Update July 2011 – my, how things have changed. I love raw peppers of any color), I am starting to think the wheedling was actually sincere with regards to some dishes.

Peperonata was one of them. Even at age 5 and anti-bell pepper, the smell of the dish was enough to make me wonder if I should taste it. I did not, and, just recently, it occurred to me I had never tried making it, even though I know I enjoy the dish now. There is something about the melty, sweet, gooey pepper and onion mixture that I love. My mom’s non-recipe was simple, but I also consulted the internet for more pointers. My mom pointed out that there are versions of the dish with or without tomatoes. Since I liked the idea of additional sauce, my version below includes tomatoes. You, of course, do not have to include them.

With regards to the pepper, I firmly believe that the smaller they are, the sweeter the dish will turn out to be. And you can of course use garlic. I skipped it because I ended up using a homemade tomato sauce with lots of garlic.

As always, be sure to check out Shan’s blog, home of What’s Cooking Wednesday.

Makes about 4 cups

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, sliced thin
3-4 large bell peppers or 6-8 small bell peppers, in a mixture of colors {I used mostly red, yellow and orange, with a purple and a green thrown in}, cut into thin strips
1-2 cups cherry tomatoes or cut-up tomatoes or tomato sauce {I used about 1 1/2 cups of homemade garlic basil tomato sauce, but use what you have on hand}

1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar {I like the Trader Joe’s white balsamic vinegar Update July 2011 – be sure to use a gluten-free vinegar)
salt and pepper, if you would like

Heat the olive oil over low to medium heat and add the sliced onions, stirring to make sure they are uniformly coated with the olive oil. Keep stirring until they start to caramelize (about 10 minutes), then add the peppers, stirring to make sure they are coated with the olive oil and evenly mixed amongst the onions.

This is where I put the lid on the pot and let the mixture cook for a good 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Some recipes call for more frequent stirring and tending so please do so if you feel more comfortable. The goal is for the peppers and onions to get soft and caramelized.

After 30 minutes, I took the lid off and let some of the liquids evaporate for about 3-5 minutes, added the tomato sauce {note, I would have added raw tomatoes about 10 minutes after adding the peppers, but since the sauce was cooked, I did not want it to spend too long re-cooking}, covered the pot again, and gave the dish another 10-15 minutes of cooking. Then I stirred in 1 tablespoon of white balsamic vinegar, tasted, added a smidge more of vinegar and decided the dish was ready. I did not feel the need to add salt, but you could of course season it as you like.

And it was lovely. I had the peperonata with pan-seared mackerel the first day, some pasta the second day, and then used the leftovers to top at focaccia I made according to this gluten-free vegan recipe {yes, I am still obsessed with this focaccia recipe}. You can see it below.

Peperonata Gluten Free Vegan Focaccia

Husband had the peperonata with a spicy sausage one day, and some crusty bread on another. We both thoroughly enjoyed it. I bet it would be great with steamed fish or grilled chicken as well. It really is that versatile and delicious a dish, whether you eat it as part of an entree, as a topping, as a side or as the main event.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 The Curator September 9, 2009 at 5:00 pm

That looks delish! I definitely want to try it with pasta/bread. :)


2 Karley September 9, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Sounds and looks delicious, CGL!
I have a 4 year old and 6 year old who are both anti-bell paper :)
We'll have to try this!


3 Jen of A2eatwrite September 9, 2009 at 10:55 pm

This looks amazing. I love vegetables when they're allowed to meld together like that.

Well, I love vegetables in any case, but maybe especially when they're allowed to meld like that. đŸ˜‰


4 Lavanya September 9, 2009 at 11:25 pm

looks and sounds yummy! I am going to try this with pasta , or maybe as a sandwich spread. Do you think red wine vinegar would work instead of the balsamic?


5 messybaker September 10, 2009 at 11:37 am

Looks delish! I love peppers, will definitely have to give this a try.


6 Melita September 10, 2009 at 2:12 pm

that looks and sounds amazing. i loved peppers when i was little. we used to have them in our garden and i would always munch on one raw. then i went through a time when i didn't like peppers, especially cooked. luckily i am back to loving them. this i can definitely see making!


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