Peperonata is a recipe for sweet bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and garlic simmered long and slow in olive oil, making a hugely flavorful and tender dish that can be enjoyed as a spread or a sauce. Learn how to make classic Italian peperonata.
Want to taste something awesome? I got one word for you – Peperonata.
What is Peperonata?
Peperonata is a classic Italian dish, where several ingredients are slowly stewed, including peppers, onions, tomatoes and garlic, along with other vegetables that are available, depending on the season.
It’s a mix between a sauce, a spread, and a topper, as all of the ingredients are cooked low and slow in oil, allowing them to break down and infuse the oil with loads of flavor.
Let’s talk about how we make it, shall we?
How to Make Peperonata – the Recipe Method
First, add some olive oil to a large pan and heat it through to medium-low.
Add your peppers, tomatoes, onion and garlic.
Season with salt and pepper and stir.
Cover and cook on medium-low for 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how softened you’d like your peperonata.
Adjust for salt and pepper, then garnish with basil (whole or chopped).
Sprinkle with spicy chili flakes if you’d like a bit of extra flavor and heat.
Peperonata is typically served with crusty bread so you can sop up all of that wonderful oil that has been infused in the pan. Scoop it over toasted bread for a version of bruschetta or for appetizers.
You can serve it with pasta as a sauce, which I have done many times, and I love it.
Consider serving it over polenta as well.
You can toss in a protein to make more of a meal out of it, such as roasted chicken breast, sauteed shrimp, or perhaps a nicely poached white fish.
Doesn’t it look delicious? So vibrant and colorful. It tastes as good as it looks.
Cooking time for peperonata can vary from place to place, depending on your preference.
Additional ingredients vary from region to region as well. While the base ingredients typically include sweet peppers, onions, tomatoes and garlic, other ingredients you might include are potato, eggplant (see my Ajvar recipe), olives, capers, zucchini, or more.
Additional seasonings might include lemon, sugar, other herbs, parsley.
If you’re looking for a spicier version of this recipe, consider adding in some hotter peppers, like red jalapeno peppers, serrano peppers, even habaneros or Scotch Bonnets. Those will really spice things up!
You’ll also find peperonata spelled “pepperonata”, which is more of an Americanized spelling, though each spelling is correct. Regardless of how you decide to spell it, it’s crazy delicious!
Cook your peperonata low and slow for 20 minutes for just softened peppers, or 1 hour or more for peppers that fall apart. It really depends on your personal preference. I enjoy the peppers when they are very soft.
So delicious this way.
Some people cook the garlic first, then the onion, then the peppers, but I’ve made it multiple ways now and it’s really easiest to just toss everything into the pan and let it do its thing.
The key, though, is the amount of olive oil used in the recipe. It may sound like a lot, but you need that much oil to cook everything down.
That’s it, my friends! I hope you enjoy your classic Italian peperonta! Let me know how you’re serving yours up. I’d love to hear!
Try Some of My Other Popular Sauce Recipes
- Green Chimichurri (Chimichurri Verde)
- Red Chimichurri (Chimichurri Rojo)
- Homemade Harissa
- Sweet Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
- Peri Peri Sauce
- Romesco Sauce
If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Peperonata – Recipe
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4 large bell peppers sliced into strips (red is best, but you can use orange or yellow as well)
- 2 pounds plump tomatoes blanched, peeled and chopped(and seeded, if desired – canned works great, too)
- 1 medium onion sliced (white or yellow)
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Basil leaves for serving
- Spicy pepper flakes for serving optional
- Add the olive oil to a large pan and heat it through to medium-low.
- Add the peppers, tomatoes, onion and garlic.
- Season with salt and pepper and stir.
- Cover and cook on medium-low for 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how softened you’d like your peperonata.
- Adjust for salt and pepper, then garnish with basil (whole or chopped). Sprinkle with spicy chili flakes if you’d like a bit of extra flavor and heat.