Peperonata – A Delicious Italian Sweet Pepper Stew

The peperonata is an Italian dish that’s made with sweet peppers. You should use fresh Italian Sweet Peppers or red bell peppers in this dish because it really highlights the delicious pepper flavor. This is an easy recipe that gives you a great tasting side dish or a topping for pizza or bruschetta.

Last weekend, we picked up a whole lot of peppers at the Farmer’s Market and shared a picture of our produce on Facebook. A friend recommended making peperonata when he saw a picture of all our peppers on Facebook. I had to look up a recipe because I hadn’t heard of it before. I’m glad we looked it up and made it. We used it as a pizza topping and added some slices of hot Italian sausage.

Variations to consider before you begin:

We found recipes using tomato paste or tomato puree. We went the style of using tomato paste and water, so it’s 1/4 cup tomato paste and 3/4 cup of water. The alternative is to just use 1 cup of tomato puree. We’ll stick with the tomato paste, but you can experiment with the puree.

Red Pepper Flakes – we didn’t see any recipes calling for these, but we add them to almost everything so we used a tablespoon. The heat is a nice compliment to the sweet peppers, so it works really well. It’s not traditional based on the recipes we found, but go for it-you won’t be sorry.

  • 1 pound of Sweet Italian Peppers or Red Bell Peppers
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste (or 1 cup of tomato puree)
  • 3/4 cup water (omit the water if using tomato puree in the step above)
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt (divided)
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbs red pepper flakes (optional)
  1. Cut the peppers in half and remove the seed and white membrane. Then cut into 1/4 inch strips
  2. Use a skillet or frying pan and heat over medium low heat. Add the olive oil and onions.
  3. Cook gently and stir occasionally to break up the onion slices with a wooden spoon until the onions begin to soften. This should take about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, until the onions are soft and melting but before the onions or garlic start to change color.
  5. Add the pepper slices, stir well and fry gently for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the tomato paste and water (or the tomato puree) and half the salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir well, cover and simmer gently for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Remove the lid and stir in the white wine vinegar and sugar.
  8. Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes or until the sauce is thickened and the peppers are soft and tender.
  9. Taste for salt level and add the remaining salt if necessary.
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature.

More information

I hate having to scroll so far down the page when looking for a recipe. So I’m shaking it up, and putting the pictures and illustrated instructions below. Let’s see how this works out.

Start by preparing your ingredients. Cut the sweet Italian peppers in half, then remove the seeds and inner white membrane. Finally, cut the halves into 1/4 inch strips

This is a picture of the Sweet Italian Pepper and some of the slices of peppers that we used.

Next, slice your onions thinly, chop your garlic, and mix the 1/4 cup of tomato paste with the 3/4 cup of water.

This is a picture of the following ingredients: Italian Sweet Peppers, sliced onions, chopped garlic, and tomato paste.

Now you want to heat your skilled or frying pan to medium low heat. Add the olive oil and onions. Gently cook these for 5 minutes and stir occasionally. You just want to start softening them at this point.

Now add the garlic and continue cooking the onions and garlic for another 5 minutes. You want the onions to be soft and melting but you don’t want them to start changing color.

Add the peppers, stir well and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the tomato paste, half the salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir well, cover and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Remove the lid and stir in the white wine vinegar and sugar. Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and the peppers are soft and tender. Then, check for salt and add if needed.

Serve this warm or at room temperature.

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