Peperonata – luscious cooked peppers

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A flavorful stew of cooked peppers and tomatoes, peperonata can be eaten hot or at room temperature as a flavorful side dish or with slices of crusty Italian bread. It’s flavors meld perfectly with a mild hard cheese.

INGREDIENTS

1-2 large onions
8 large bell peppers – red, yellow, orange, green
Optional: spicy chilies (jalapenoes, red fresno chilies, thai chilies, etc)
1 28oz can of chopped tomatoes (preferable unsalted, organic)
1-2 bay leaves
Italian Parsley
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Optional: 1-2 tablespoons sugar and 1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

WHAT TO DO

1. Wash the peppers. Chop them into quarters or large wedges and remove the seeds. Chop the spicy chilies into rounds. Chop onions into half rings about 1/4 inch thick.

2. Heat olive oil in large pot or dutch oven. Add onion slices and cook uncovered over medium heat. Stir only to prevent from burning.

3. Five minutes later, add 1 pepper chopped into quarters.

4.  When onion browns (generally, after another 5 minutes) add the rest of the onions and peppers. Cover. Cook until peppers wilt (but don’t brown) and don’t stir too often – this usually takes a good 20-30 minutes. Once there is enough liquid, add the bay leaves.

5. Now uncover, add tomatoes, cook on medium-low heat until wilted and much of the watery liquid evaporates, leaving a slightly thicker, more dense liquid. Generally, this takes about 10-15 minutes. Add salt.

6. In the final 15 minutes of cooking, add chopped parsley, and  – if you wish – the sugar and vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings.

7. Enjoy! You can eat hot from the pot, but for best flavor, let it sit for 24 hours (refrigerated) and serve at room temperature as a side dish or on bread with a good hard cheese and a bold red wine!

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Acqua e Sale – a refreshing summer raw-veggie soup

This is a refreshing summer dish made with raw vegetables in a simple broth of water, salt and olive oil. It is similar to a cold gaspacho and is great with stale bread.

INGREDIENTS

2 ripe tomatoes
1/4 to 1/2 red onion
1/2 cucumber
1 green pepper (bell or other)
good extra-virgin olive oil
salt
hearty stale bread, sliced (you can use any hearty country bread with a nice crust, though Pugliese frise are the best)

WHAT TO DO

1. Cut the tomatoes, onion, peppers and cucumber into small pieces and place in a medium bowl.

2. Add lots of water, abundant olive oil and salt.  Refrigerate for 1 hour. The end result will be almost like a cold soup or gaspacho.

3. Eat in bowls, over slices of stale bread.

Stuffed Tomatoes- Tuscan Style

Recipe from Signora Lella in Siena

INGREDIENTS

4 tomatoes
Rice (2 spoons per tomato)
Parsley
1 clove garlic
Tomato Juice
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper

WHAT TO DO

1. PREPARE TOMATOES: Wash the tomatoes. Cut the tops off. Scoop pulp, seeds and juice into a bowl.

2. MAKE FILLING: Add mashed garlic, choped parsley, salt, pepper and washed rice to the bowl of tomato pulp.

3. The filling needs to be WET so the rice cooks, so add liquid as needed. Try 2 tablespoons –  1/2 cup water, tomato juice or white wine. To ensure that the rice cooks, it’s best to let the filling sit for an hour.

4. Spoon the rice into tomatoes, but don’t pack it in. It needs to get wet and juicy to cook!

5. Cook in the oven at 350 for 40 minutes.

Grilled Eggplant – Recipe – Salento-style grilled eggplant from Maria’s Kitchen!

INGREDIENTS

1 big eggplant
(zucchini too if you wish)
balsamic vinegar
extra-virgin olive oil
salt

WHAT TO DO

1.Cut the eggplant (and zucchini) into thin slices.

2. Cook them on a grill pan, or grill, or directly over the flame on the stove until the little brown lines of grilling show up. Flip and cook on the other side.

3. Lay the grilled veggies in a large shallow dish, lightly season wtih the oil, vinegar, oil and salt. Taste the veggies before you season them, because usually they’re so flavorful they barely need seasoning. Enjoy!

Casilde’s Pepper Antipasto – Recipe

Ingredients:
Bell peppers
Olive oil for frying (and/or mixed with sunflower or vegetable oil)
Bread Crumbs
Capers
Nepitella/Mint
White wine vinegar
Salt

What to Do:

1. Prep Veggies. Wash & dry peppers, cut in half and remove seeds and stems.

2. Heat oil in pan until nearly smoking. (It’s hot enough when something dropped in starts to pop or crackle.)

3. Fry peppers until skins start to blister. Remove onto paper towels to cool

4. Once cool, slice into strips. Add breadcrumbs, capers, chopped mint, a light sprinkle of vinegar and salt to taste. Toss.

Yum! Eat with crusty Pugliese bread or by itself. Great with a strong red wine like Primitivo (or its sister the Zinfindel), Negroamaro or any great Puglese Rosè.