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Peppers with Tomatoes and Onion (Peperonata)

Like eggplants, potatoes and tomatoes, peppers traveled to Italy after Columbuss voyages to America and were at first cultivated for decorative purposes only, their edibility regarded with suspicion. Now they are grown all over Italy, although the peppers from Asti in Piedmont, called quadri because of their four sides, are justifiably famous, as they are big and meaty.

In the Piedmont, peppers are roasted for salads, and they are an important part of bagna cauda. They are also served stuffed with tuna or preserved in vinegar and in oil. Peperonata, a combination of bell peppers, onions and tomatoes, is popular, too, although it may not be native to the region since similar dishes are prepared in Sicily as well as in other parts of the country.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 4 red, yellow or green bell peppers, seeded and
      thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, or 1
      cup seeded and chopped canned plum
      tomatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

In a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.

Stir in the bell peppers and cook until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until the peppers are tender and the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the basil. Serve hot or at room temperature. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Italy, by Michele Scicolone (Time-Life Books, 1999).