Lately, I’ve been joking with my Italian grandparents about how much I miss the ‘peasant food’ that they grew up with and the recipes they brought to Australia with them and in turned raised us to eat.
The food back then was so simple- my grandparents and parents were raised in a simpler time, where they had to be resourceful with the meat and vegetables they had and would sometimes have to stretch those meals over long periods of time.
And yet, some of their food is the most delicious! Simple recipes, with few ingredients and uncomplicated methods. Sometimes I wonder what the hell we are doing these days with all this deglazing, flambe-ing and tomato-rose garnishes- we need to go old school and just pick a couple of ingredients and cook them simply and season them properly! That’s it! There’s no magic, you won’t die of starvation and the food is healthy, fresh and delish.
Peperonata is one of those favourites. There are lots of variations depending on where you come from and the one I was raised with was a tasty concoction of slow cooked red capsicum, onions, wedges of potato and some peeled tomatoes. You can add basil, garlic and a bit of oregano for extra flavour too (I do, but my grandma won’t- in fact she’d disown me if she found out I was telling people to put them in it, sorry Nonna!).
This is delicious on it’s own with some crusty Ciabatta bread on one of those CBF days. It smells AMAZING while it’s cooking away, so if you’re having people over, they automatically think you’ve been working your butt off in the kitchen because it smells so damn good.
It’s versatile too. Without the potatoes, it would be good tossed through some penne with some Parmesan cheese, in a lasagna, alongside a beef or chicken dish or even as the basis for a good Cacciatore- just add some olives and a few other veggies, some more Passata and slow cook your chicken in it. Delish.
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 4 red capsicums, sliced into thick strips
- 2 onions, quartered
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 potatoes, cut into wedges
- 1/2 bottle tomato passata/ 1 can peeled tomatoes
- 1/3 cup basil, chopped
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- Salt, pepper to taste
- Combine all ingredients in a heavy-based pot (non-stick preferred)- a Dutch oven, slow cooker or crock pot, cover and cook on low heat on the stove for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened significantly and the capsicums are soft and fragrant.
- Serve with crusty bread and a salad or as a side dish for beef or chicken.