peppers-the rainbow

I was surprised when my mom had no clue about this dish. Where’d I learn it then? Somewhere along the way it snuck into my repertoire… and easily makes a frequent appearance. We’re not in farmer’s market pepper season now, but that doesn’t stop the shops from selling peppers. And I take the bait.

It’s an easy dish and speaks some real Italian. All you do is stem and seed bell peppers and slice them into thick strips. Sauté peppers with sliced onion in some olive oil until the hodgepodge is a bit wilted and, not exactly super-soft, but to the tooth (al dente!).

I reach for the red, yellow, or orange peppers. But I’d guess that green peppers were the original ingredient. Green peppers were the only pepper I knew growing up. And green peppers pop up in Italy a lot, too. I’m just not a big fan of the greens. The flavor is stronger and twists in a direction I don’t always like to go. BUT, by all means. Toss them in.

I fiddle with the classic and also add some chucks of zucchini, and/or a cut-up fresh tomato, a few capers sometimes, and for a bit of punch, a drizzle of a favorite vinegar…and, for a bit of crunch, sometimes I sprinkle with toasted breadcrumb. Oh, and fresh herbs if you’ve got them on hand. Thyme. Basil. Mint. Sage?

pepperonata 1

sauteing peperonata

Call it a side dish. Call it a main dish. Call it a pasta sauce. Call it peperonata. (But don’t call it a taxi– I’m still eating.)




3 red & yellow peppers, stems, seeds and membrane discarded

3 small zucchini

2 medium tomatoes

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, peeled & sliced in half-moons

salt & pepper to taste

1/4 cup capers

2-3 tablespoons favorite vinegar

2-3 sprigs fresh basil or mint, or combination

1/4 cup breadcrumbs, lightly toasted in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil

Cut the peppers into thick slices. Cut the zucchini into inch-thick half-moons. Cut the tomatoes into wedges.

Heat some olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion. Cook for a few minutes until softened, then add the peppers. Cook for about 4-5 minutes until the peppers have softened. Add the zucchini and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer until zucchini is softened and tomatoes break down a bit, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in the capers. Drizzle some vinegar. Tear leaves of basil or mint and add to mixture. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the toasted breadcrumb. Serve hot or at room temperature.

The Zucchini, Peppers, Eggplant Reunion

Zucchini, Eggplant, Peppers

Zucchini, Eggplant, Peppers

You can use the above picture as a color palette for painting the walls of the rooms of your house. Bright yellow kitchen walls (I have that), Deep red dining room walls (I have that). Eggplant saturated office walls (I have that). And green…green…bedroom walls? (I don’t have that. No green walls.) (But the garden is green!)

Green Garden

Green Garden

The other thing you can do with that basket of wonder is cook it. Especially now when the shelves of the supermarket and the bins of the farmer’s market are spilling over with zucchini, eggplant and peppers. Those veggies just SAY summer (listen closely you can hear them) (they have tiny voices that squeak a little) (except for the eggplant, the eggplant is deep & bass-y). I’ve got a recipe that brings them together into a melange that makes them start singing.

First: cut each vegetable into uniform bite-sized pieces. Line 3 sheet pans with foil. Toss the cut-up zucchini on one, the cut-up peppers on the other, the cut-up eggplant on the third. Drizzle each with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper (add a little hot pepper like “aleppo” if you’re so inclined), and roast each pan in a 400 degree oven until golden and softened.

NOW (in a large mixing or serving bowl) mix them all together. In a food processor (or by all means mince with a knife) pulse some basil and parsley and garlic. Add a little olive oil and season with salt. “Dress” your roasted veggies with the mixture and serve. Hot or room temp (I like room temp best for this).

When you take a bite you’re tasting summer, you’re swallowing the sun. You’re engaging with 3 separately grown vegetables that are finally having their reunion (because they are really lifelong friends…didn’t you know they went to high school together?)

Roasted zucchini, eggplant, pappers

Roasted zucchini, eggplant, peppers

And if you’re at the grill today and your CSA basket is overtaking your home with zucchini, eggplant and peppers, get them on the grill!

grilling zucchini, eggplant, peppers

grilling zucchini, eggplant, peppers

Slice each veggie. Toss with some olive oil and salt. Grill till grill lines make their appearance and your veggies soften up.

Make the pesto like above but add a bit more olive oil. Serve on a pretty plate (the veggies are, of course, the prettiest) and stare at the beauty for a while. But don’t wait too long. Your taste buds are dying to join the party.

grilled zucchini, eggplant, peppers w pesto

grilled zucchini, eggplant, peppers w pesto