Sweet Peppers in Sauce, or what I’ve loosely translated from the Italian Peperoni in Salsa, is another recipe that was handed down to me by my mother. It’s one of the foods I grew up with that elicits nostalgic feelings any time I smell its beautiful aroma as it’s cooking or taste the sweet and flavorful peppers as I scoop them up with crusty homemade bread. I credit this recipe for my love of peppers from a young age, and anyone I’ve made it for, even those who don’t normally love peppers as I do, comment on how amazing it tastes.
This side dish complements anything from pasta to meat dishes to the classic Italian light dinner of uovo con la salsa (pan cooked whole eggs made with tomato sauce). Regardless of what it is paired with, you absolutely must eat Peperoni in Salsa with Italian bread. Ideally it should be homemade, the kind that is crusty and crunchy and perfect for doing what we call scarpetta, a not so fancy way of wiping up the sauce left behind on your plate with bread. This dish packs a powerful and deep flavor, but it’s easy to prepare and can be served warm or cold making it perfect for a variety of settings. While it’s simple and easy to make, be ready to let the peppers cook down slowly. Allowing them to caramelize is the secret for achieving the deepest flavor.
Sweet Peppers in SaucePeperoni in Salsa
- 4 peppers of any color (ideally a mix of green, red and yellow peppers)
- 4 roma tomatoes
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, more as needed
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- salt to taste
Start by cleaning the peppers thoroughly by removing the stem, seeds and white flesh on the interior of the peppers and then slice them very thinly. Cut the roma tomatoes down to small pieces as well. It doesn’t have to be perfect since you are going to cook everything way down. Heat the olive oil in a shallow pan or skillet on medium heat, then add the peppers, tomatoes and cloves of crushed garlic. Allow the peppers and tomatoes to sautee a bit and reduce in size while they lose their water. Turn down the heat to low and cook until the peppers caramelize thoroughly, reducing into almost a sauce-like consistency. Add any extra olive oil as needed and be sure to stir frequently to keep everything from burning. The amount of time this takes will depend on how thinly you cut the peppers. The key to the recipe is allowing the peppers to completely caramelize, much like you would caramelize onions. Once you’ve reached the desired consistency, add salt to taste and take the peppers off of the heat. I leave the garlic cloves in the final dish because we adore garlic in my household, but my mother’s original recipe recommends only heating the garlic in the olive oil and then removing the cloves once their flavor has been released. This step is entirely up to you, of course, but I really love the way the cloves soften and blend in with the peppers when I leave them in. This dish can be served immediately or chilled, either way is delicious!