Peperonata is an easy Italian dish made with extra-virgin olive oil, peppers and sweet onion. Slowly cooked, this classic Italian recipe is perfect as a side dish, or a condiment. Serve it warm or at room temperature.
If you are a pepper fan, then you need to try this classic Italian Peperonata. Full of flavor and truly so simple to make. It's so versatile. You can serve it with polenta, on top of spaghetti squash, or serve it with some chicken- it's always a crowd pleaser!
This is a nostalgic Italian recipe for me. It reminds me very much of nonna Antonia, my husband's Calabrian nonna, who is in her 90's! She still makes this dish in the summer in Calabria.
Nonna Antonia came to visit us one time in the States (it was her first international flight!). She and my mother-in-law, Teresa, took over my kitchen. My kitchen was filled with pepper seeds. They taught me how to make peperonata the Calabrian way.
Nonna Antonia wasn't shy with the extra-virgin olive oil. Also, nonna does not follow a recipe. I started to add some olive oil to the pan, and she encouraged me, "metti...metti...!". She implored me to keep on adding the olive oil!
That summer they even brought us a bottle of olive oil from Calabria. And they don't have just an average store-bought olive oil. They have liquid gold! First press local extra-virgin Calabrian olive oil. It tastes so fruity and so fresh. Like no olive oil you will ever imagine tasting! I would move to Calabria just for the olive oil alone!
Why you'll love an Italian peperonata?
- Simple ingredients: The ingredient list is simple, and you maybe have all you need on hand to make it right now!
- Vegan + gluten free: This Italian recipe is naturally vegan, sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, Paleo and Whole30 compliant.
- Easy to make: This is one of the easiest Italian recipes you'll ever make! Rustic, there is nothing fancy to it. It just takes a little time to cook the peppers.
How do peperonata recipes vary in Italy?
La Peperonata is another one of those Italian recipes that will vary from region to region, and even from family to family.
The recipe could vary from being made with peppers and onions (like this recipe), to a version where there are olives added in, and even capers. Sometimes we make the peperonata with fresh tomatoes or some tomato passata.
As you'll see, this is a very simple version of the recipe, yet it is full of flavor!
What ingredients are in an Italian peperonata?
- Extra virgin olive oil - It's important to use a very good quality extra-virgin olive oil. Peperonata really shines when made with delicious olive oil. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive, just a decent supermarket variety will be fine.
- Peppers - You could use just red peppers, or a combo of red, yellow and orange peppers. I had some green pepper on hand and added one in. Typically, I will make it will just red peppers. Choose peppers that do not have any bruising or wrinkled skin (if the skin is wrinkled, it is not going to cook up nicely).
- Onion - Sweet onions are great. You could even use red onions. Or even white onions. I like to use sweet or Vidalia onions, as the flavor enhances the peppers.
- Tomatoes or tomato passata: Optional to add fresh tomatoes or tomato passata. Sometimes I had some tomatoes, and sometimes I don't. If you use a passata, use a very good quality, as the flavor will be so much better.
- Sea Salt - Sea salt or even kosher salt will work. Add in the amount that works for your taste. Start out with a teaspoon, and add more as it cooks, if you taste it, and feel it needs more salt. Adding the right amount of salt will take the peperonata from bland to just right.
How to make a classic peperonata?
First thing is to gather your ingredients. Start prepping the peppers and onions.
Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in the pan. Once it is hot, add in the onions and cook until they begin to soften. Next, add in the peppers and give it a stir.
Put a lid on the pan and cook the peppers and onions on a medium low heat. Check on the peppers and keep giving it a stir every few minutes. You don't want it to burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. Add in some water, if it's getting too sticky to loosen it up a bit.
Add in some salt and keep slowly cooking. If you're adding in tomato passata, add it in after the first 15 minutes of cooking.
Leave the lid off the pan and keep slowly cooking. Check the seasoning and add more salt, if needed. When the peppers have softened and are tender, it is ready.
Yes, this recipe doubles easily. Be sure to use a big enough pan to give the peppers room to cook. It may take a little bit more of additional time to cook the peppers.
This peperonata recipe could be used as a sauce on top of pasta. Just be sure to make enough, depending on how much pasta you're cooking up.
You could use red, yellow, and even green peppers. If you want to make it spicy, add in a hot pepper.
What can I serve with sauteed peppers and onions?
There is a variety of ways to serve peperonata. Here is how we like it:
- Grilled proteins: Turn on the grill and cook up your steak, chicken, or pork. Peperonata goes perfectly with any grilled meats.
- Make it an app: Peperonata makes a delicious appetizer. Make a cheese board and add in some salami, and chunks of this easy Ligurian focaccia bread with rosemary.
- With pasta This peperonata could go so well with any short pasta (penne, rigatoni or even farfalle). Delicious also with zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash (for low-carb ideas).
- Make it bruschetta: Toast up some baguette slices and top with the peperonata.
- There are so many different ways to serve this yummy dish. Here are some of our tried and true favorites.
- Polenta: Peperonata is so delicious with a creamy bowl of polenta. You could also serve it with grilled polenta and a side dish of salad.
- Make it a sauce: Take any chicken or pork dish up a level. Use this as a sauce for your favorite protein.
- Grain bowls: Make a bowl with your favorite grains. You could use farro, quinoa, or even rice and add in some greens.
- Eggs: Pepperonata goes so nicely with eggs. They would go great with eggs in purgatory.
Tips to make the best Italian peperonata recipe
- Do not overstir: Give the peppers time to soften up. Keep on eye on the peppers and stir. You could add small portions of water to help them loosen up and slowly cook. .
- Serve it just cooked: If you like the peppers very hot, you could serve them as soon as they're cooked up. Or you could place them in a serving dish and let them cool down while you prep other things.
- Make it spicy: If you like it hot, go ahead and add in some of your favorite hot peppers. Adjust the heat to your taste.
- Green Peppers: If you do add in a green pepper, keep in mind it could be a bit more better than the red bell peppers. Stick with just red, yellow, or orange peppers if you want it more naturally sweet.
- Cooking time: The full amount it takes to cook will depend on the actual peppers. Some peppers will be more tender, and cook up quicker. It's also depending on how what texture you prefer it to be. If you would like it very soft, keep it cooking a bit longer. If you want a little bite to the pepper, cook it less.
- Keep heat low: So that you don't burn the peppers, keep the heat on a low temperature as you slowly cook them.
- Leftovers: The peppers are even better the next day. The longer time the flavors marinade, the better it will be.
Recipe Variations and Ideas
This is a recipe that can be customized to your preferences. Here are some ideas:
- Make it spicy: If you like it hot, go ahead and add in some of your favorite hot peppers. Adjust the heat to your taste. You could add in some diced jalapeno, red pepper flakes, or even some Italian chili oil.
- Add in canned tomatoes: If you happen to have some diced tomatoes on hand, you could add some in (with their juice) or plum tomatoes.
- Fresh herbs: Use whatever fresh herbs you have on hand. You could add in some fresh basil leaves, thyme, or fresh oregano.
- Add beans: If you have any canned beans on hand, go ahead and add some for a delicious vegan/vegetarian main dish. You could use cannellini, chickpeas, or even Great Northern beans.
- Add protein: A great way to make this a main dish is to grill up your favorite protein, and serve it together (on the side or on top). Goes very nicely with chicken, steak, even grilled fish.
Can you make an Italian peperonata in a Crock Pot?
Yes, you sure can! Pull out your slow cooker, and add all the ingredients in. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until the peppers and onions are soft. Add some 1/2 cup water to the pepper mixture so it won't stick to the bottom. Check on it 1/2 way through cooking, give it a stir, and add more water, if needed.
How long does it keep fresh in refrigerator?
Store any leftover peperonata in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Can you freeze peperonata?
Let the peppers cool down completely to room temperature. Store them in an airtight container (or a zipped lock freezer bag). Be sure to date your container (or bag)and should keep frozen for up to 2 months. Freezing the cooked peppers will change the texture of them. '
How to sauté onions and peppers
To saute onions and peppers you need to:
- Cut the onion into thin slices and cut the peppers into strips.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the onions and peppers to the skillet and stir to coat them in the oil.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook the vegetables for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and slightly caramelized.
- Remove from heat and serve as a side dish or add to your recipe as desired.
Peperonata is an Italian dish made with peppers, onions, and tomatoes that are sautéed together in olive oil until they are soft and tender. The name "peperonata" comes from the Italian word "peperone," which means bell pepper.
To make peperonata, you will need:
Bell peppers (red, yellow, and/or green), Onion, Tomatoes, Olive oil, Salt and pepper
If you have extra peppers, you can roast them in the oven or on the grill, chop them up, and use them in salads, sandwiches, or quesadillas. You can also freeze them for later use in soups or stews.
In Italian slang, the word for pepper is "peperoncino" or "peperone piccante," which refers to a spicy pepper.
Some other pepper recipes to enjoy:
Did you make this? Please RATE THE RECIPE below:)
Easy Peperonata Recipe
- 1 pound red bell peppers use also a green bell pepper, if you have on hand
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large sweet onion
- 1 cup tomato puree or passata, optional
- 1 teaspoon sea salt more, to taste
- Fresh herbs optional
- Prep peppers: Cut the peppers in half and remove seeds and white membranes. Cut into ¼ inch strips.
- Prep onion: Peel onion and slice thinly.
- Heat pan: Place a skillet or frying pan over medium low heat. Add olive oil and once it’s hot and shimmering, add in and the onions. Cook, stirring, until soften (about 5 minutes).
- Cook onions: Keep cooking another few minutes until they soften more, then add in the pepper slices. Stir to combine.
- Cook onions and peppers: Cover with a lid, and let the peppers slowly simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Check on the peppers, and give them a stir so they’re not sticking. Add a little bit of water if they seem to be sticking, and stir, cover with the lid again.
- Remove the lid and simmer: Take off the lid and keep slowly simmering. If you’re adding in tomato passata or sauce, add it in and stir to combine.
- Add in salt: Season with salt. Give it another stir and if it’s sticking more and too thick, add a little bit more water, and stir, to loosen.
- Keep simmering: Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes. The peppers should soften and be tender, but not broken down and mushy.
- Check the seasoning: Add a bit more salt, if needed, to your taste.
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information presented below is an approximation and may vary depending on the exact ingredients used.
- Peppers: Use whatever peppers you have on hand, but red bell peppers will make the sweetest peperonata. You could use also orange or yellow (for sweetness). I added in a green pepper because I wanted to cook it up.
- Onions: Sweet or Vidalia onions will give the best flavor. Use whatever onions you have on hand or what you prefer.
- Cooking time: The time to cook will vary depending on the peppers. Keep an eye on them, and they should be soft, but not totally falling apart.
- Cooking temp: The temperature should be a medium-low, but every stove is different. Adjust the heat as needed so that they are slowly stewing and not burning.
- Seasoning: Add as much or as little salt according to your flavor preference. Start with less and you could always add more, if needed.
- Fresh herbs: Optional, but you could add fresh basil (or any fresh herb you like).