Traditional Peperonata Italiana

This traditional peperonata is one of the most delicious Italian recipes for summer. Colorful peppers are stewed with onions, tomatoes, and potatoes, to deliver a flavorful dish to enjoy as a side or main with crusty bread.

Traditional peperonata Italiana in a pan.

What Is Peperonata?

Peperonata is an Italian traditional dish made with red and yellow bell peppers, tomato sauce, and basil.

The ingredients are slowly cooked until tender, delivering a scrumptious stew that can be served at room temperature or cold to pair with any grilled protein or as a starter with toasted homemade bread.

This delicious and simple meal can be made any time of the year but here in Italy is considered a summer dish because is when peppers and tomatoes are in season, making the stew more flavorful.

The traditional recipe is made differently from region to region in the country. In some places like Sicily, you’ll find this side-dish with capers, olives, or even anchovies. While in Rome is very common to add some potatoes and lots of basil.

Close-up of traditional peperonata Italiana.

About The Ingredients

You will need some basic ingredients to make this amazing and simple dish, let me break them down for you:

  • BELL PEPPERS: Stay away from green peppers, you better add red, yellow, and maybe orange because those are sweeter and meaty.
  • ONION: Yellow, red, or white doesn’t matter, and even in Italy, the type of onions changes between regions.
  • TOMATOES: I am making a quick tomato sauce by just boiling, peeling, and blending some tomatoes, but if you’re in a hurry, use a can of simple tomato sauce (no seasoned!).
  • POTATOES: As the roman version of the traditional dish calls, use some potatoes. Again, use any type you prefer.
  • GARLIC: Add as much as you like, nicely minced or pressed.
  • OIL: Since we are using just a few ingredients, make sure they are good quality. Get the best extra virgin olive oil you can.
  • BASIL: Fresh basil leaves, as much as you want.
  • SEASONINGS: Salt and freshly cracked black pepper are all you need.

How To Make Traditional Peperonata Recipe

Start by deciding if you want to use homemade tomato sauce or canned. If you go with the first option, boil 3 large tomatoes, peel them, remove the seeds, and then blend them.

Now, cut the bell peppers into 1 ½ inch (4cm) squares. Cut onions and potatoes into chunks about the same size as bell peppers.

Yellow and red bell peppers alongside with onions and potatoes on a cutting board to make traditional peperonata.

Related: How To Wash Fresh Fruits And Vegetables.

Heat a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil in a non-sticking pan over medium heat.

Add bell peppers and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Sauté for 7 minutes or until peppers start to soften.

Add onions and stir for another 3-4 minutes or until onions get a bit translucent. Last, add garlic and sauté until fragrant.

Peperonata preparation: The vegetables softened in the pan.

Pour in the tomato sauce and ½ cup of hot water. Add some basil leaves and season with salt and pepper.

Adding tomato sauce and basil to the pan with peperonata.

Mix well, cover with a lid and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.

Add potatoes to the mixture and then pour enough hot water to lightly cover them. Mix well.

The peperonata ingredients slightly covered with water.

Keep cooking covered and stirring once or twice in between. If needed, add a little bit more water to allow potatoes to cook evenly.

Once potatoes and peppers are nicely cooked through, uncover the pan to allow the sauce to reduce and thicken a bit. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Cooked traditional peperonata in a pan. Seen from above.

Turn off the heat and let the dish sit until everything is at room temperature before serving.

Useful Tips and Notes

  • Simple is better. We always try to keep it simple and refrain from adding any extra ingredients. The vegetables are enough to bring all the flavor to this fantastic dish.
  • But if you want to enjoy this recipe out of season, you might like to add some extra ingredients to bring out the flavor. Capers and olives are our recommendations.
  • Cook peppers and onions slowly and covered, is the best way to make the stew juicy and soft.
  • The traditional peperonata Italiana doesn’t have vinegar on it, believe me. When vinegar is added, the dish becomes peperoni in agrodolce (sweet and sour peppers).
  • You can make it a bit spicy by adding some red pepper flakes or chile de arbol.
The dish served on a plate with more fresh basil leaves on top and some bread on the side.

How To Eat It

This traditional dish is a mix between a topper and a sauce. Something you will eat either with bread to soak up all the flavorful juices or use as a condiment for your pasta.

So, let me tell you some ways as is eaten here in Italy:

As a side dish or appetizer. For any main dish like grilled chicken, steak, lasagna, grilled fish, etc.

On a bruschetta. Oh, there’s nothing better than a bruschetta con i peperoni. The crusty Italian bread and the stewed vegetables make this option one of my favorites.

With pasta. Cook your favorite pasta, mix in some peperonata, add some parmigiano and there you go. Ready to enjoy a delicious and hassle-free summer meal. Check out our recipe for pasta pepperonata to make it from scratch!

Panini. My favorite panino is made with ligurian focaccia, fresh mozzarella and a spoonful of peperonata. That’s it. Simple and yet delicious!

How To Store And Reheat

This recipe is amazing as a prep meal. When summer is ending, I make a large batch of it and freeze it because I just love it too much! Here’s how you should store it and reheat it:

  • Room Temperature: Well covered, even in the same pot or pan where you made it. It lasts for a whole day in your kitchen if the temperature is not too hot.
  • In the refrigerator: Up to 4 days, nicely stored in a glass container with an airtight lid.
  • In the freezer: Up to 3 months, in bags or proper freezing containers.
  • Thaw: In the fridge overnight or in your countertop for as long as is needed.
  • Reheat: In a pan with a splash of water over medium heat. Or in the microwave in 1-minute intervals.

Similar Recipes

If you enjoy bell pepper recipes, here are more for you to check out.

La peperonata recipe

Traditional Peperonata

author Maricruz
4
Traditional peperonata is an easy Italian dish made with red and yellow bell peppers, tomato sauce, and basil. Serve at room temperature or cold to pair with any grilled protein or as a starter with crusty bread.
prep 10 minutes
cook 40 minutes
total 50 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 ½ lb red and yellow bell peppers (cut into 1 ½ inch/4cm squares)
  • 1 large white onion (cut into chunks)
  • 1 lb potatoes (cut into cubes)
  • 1 cup homemade tomato sauce (or canned)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • bunch basil leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil (as needed)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions
 

  • Heat a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil in a non-sticking pan over medium heat.
  • Add peppers and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
  • Sauté for 7 minutes or until peppers start to soften.
  • Add onions and stir for another 3-4 minutes or until onions become a bit translucent.
  • Add garlic and sauté until fragrant.
  • Pour in the tomato sauce and ½ cup of hot water.
  • Add some basil leaves and season with salt and pepper.
  • Mix well, cover with a lid and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.
  • Add potatoes to the mixture and then pour enough hot water to slightly cover them. Mix well.
  • Keep cooking covered and stirring once in between. If needed, add more water to allow potatoes to cook evenly.
  • Once potatoes and peppers are done, uncover to allow the sauce to thicken.
  • Adjust seasonings and turn off the heat.
  • Let the peperonata sit until it will be at room temperature before serving.

Notes

  • I made a quick tomato sauce by just boiling, peeling, and blending some tomatoes, but you use a cup of simple tomato sauce (no seasoned!).
  • But if you want to enjoy this recipe out of season, you might like to add some extra ingredientes to bring out the flavor. Capers and olives are our recommendation.
  • Cook peppers and onions slowly and covered, is the best way to make the stew juicy and soft.
  • Traditional peperonata doesn’t have vinegar on it, believe me. When vinegar is added, the dish become peperoni in agrodolce (sweet and sour peppers).
Nutrition Information
Calories: 264kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 714mg | Potassium: 997mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 5516IU | Vitamin C: 245mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 2mg
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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Hey! Definitely the next time I will add olives. I did it with pasta, but all your options sound very good like chicken and lasagna, and there are other dishes that I don’t know yet like Panini, or the meaning of ciabatta, hope you can write about that next time! I got compliments from my family for the Peperonata, and it took me like an hour to have everything ready, so highly recommended!