Monday, 27 October 2014

Almost peperonata

Almost peperonata

I have a backlog of recipes for the blog - and I mean recipes with pictures edited and ingredients and preparation steps already written - waiting for being published. But the last two months have been a bit odd to me (I don't want to talk of how fast they passed: it seems last week that I came back from my summer holidays!). At the beginning of September my two years old son started going to the nursery, for the very first time in his life. And since then he attended his class less than half the scheduled time. Not because he doesn't like the school - on the contrary he is always very happy and excited to go - but because he repeatedly gets sick: three, maximum four days in school and then fever, cold, cough, sore throat. We are going to the doctor every other week, and she says that everything is absolutely normal: the immune system is developing, there are many viruses in schools (and in Dubai in general), it is the very first time he gets in contact with many other children  ... with time everything will go better. All things I already knew, but when they really happens are a bit annoying. Not much for me but above all for the kid: one whole day at home (and he wakes up at 6.30 a.m. and sleeps at 8.30 p.m.) is really long and it may difficult to find many different activities to do; I said many different, because the interest of a two years old boy lasts no longer than 20 minutes, with cartoons the only exception. So this is how I spent most of my days during the last two months: finding something to do for my sick little boy. I thought that after the beginning of the school I would have had much more time for doing things I was always postponing (exploring better the city because I am still new to it, knowing people/making new friends, and pampering myself sometimes) and above all dedicate more time to my blog. But nothing went as planned and on one side I am still postponing the same activities, on the other I can work at the blog much less then I would (when my son sleeps in the afternoon, in the evenings or during weekends while the child is playing with his dad); but there is also a very positive aspect of all this: I stay with my son, and the time spent with him is the most precious. And another consequence of this, not so serious indeed, is that some of the not-published-yet recipes are no more "in season", in the sense that they would be more suitable for the past summer than for the incoming fall. Considering the concept of seasonality that I have always had as an Italian living in Italy. I try to explain. I have always preferred to use seasonal (and local as I have already said) product and also to make dishes coherent with the current season, but I have to admit that after moving to Dubai I have slightly changed my idea of "seasonal": when living in Italy I wouldn't have prepared a farro salad or a gazpacho in November, preferring maybe a more warming risotto; but here in November the weather is almost the same as in July in Italy (and also the range of available local products). This means that some of  my "expired" recipes are still good for Dubai's fall and winter, like this peperonata, an Italian side dish made with onion, peppers and tomatoes.

Almost peperonata
These three ingredients are actually the basic ones in the recipe because, like for all traditional dishes, the variations on peperonata are almost infinite, considering the regional recipes (actually peperonata is more typical of Central and Southern regions of Italy) and the family traditions. You can find it with the addition of potatoes, with or without garlic, with different herbs for flavoring. It can be served warm or at room temperature. It is usually a side dish, but it is also a delicious sauce for pasta with the addition of some grated parmigiano.
My recipe here is a personal variation of my mother's recipe and this is why I called it almost peperonata: she uses only peppers, onion, sliced peeled plum or grape tomatoes and fresh basil to finish. I made a richer version adding some ingredients (olives, capers, some anchovies and balsamic vinegar) and using cherry instead of plum/grape tomatoes. And actually I think that this dish is perfect for all seasons, even far from Dubai.
Almost peperonata

Almost peperonata
serves 4 - 6
2 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 2 cm pieces
2 medium yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 2 cm pieces
2 medium green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 2 cm pieces
2 onion, sliced
250 g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp salted capers, soaked in fresh water for 1 hour
20 kalamata or taggiasca olives pitted or sliced
3-4 anchovies fillets (optional)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, pepper
fresh basil leaves

Pour 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil into a large pan, add a the sliced onion and let it cook until soft and pale then add the anchovies, if using, and let them dissolve; stir in the pepper and let the mixture cook over a low - medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour the balsamic vinegar and let evaporate. Then add tomatoes, capers and olives and let cook for another 5- 10 minutes or until tomatoes release their juices. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat, add fresh basil leaves and serve warm or at room temperature.


  1. I prefer peperonata to ratatouille any day - and you are so right about it being perfect for this time of the year in Dubai.

  2. Actually we are lucky here with weather. But I love so much peperonata that I can have it even in the winter I was used to.