Pepperonata (peh-peh-roh-NAH-tah) is an Italian vegetable dish of slow-cooked, or stewed bell peppers with onion and garlic. Of course there are variations and some Italian cooks will add tomatoes, eggplant, or other Italian vegetables. Exclude the anchovies and it is a great plant-based dinner.
The Flavor Boost of Adding Romesco Sauce
However you decide to mix it up, classic or uniquely yours, a pepperonata side dish can be a stand alone side dish or used as a sauté topping for proteins or vegetables on a low carb lifestyle. The Romesco Sauce takes it over the top and enhances the flavor even more.
We had the luxury of an extra long growing season in Minnesota this year, and I was able to harvest a boatload of different sweet and hot peppers, along with a bountiful harvest of heirloom squash. It is always easiest to design a dinner around what is in your fridge (or in this case your garden), and the bright orange bell peppers and squash prompted me to think of an Italian fall dinner.
The colorful Italian Romesco sauce makes this dinner a gorgeous feast rich with the beta carotene from the orange vegetables, and the creamy texture and flavors of a premium comfort food.
The Basics of a Pepperonata Side Dish
The simplest way to make a pepperonata sauté is to cook 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1/2 sliced onion in 1/4 cup of olive oil over low heat for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add 5 bell peppers that are quartered and of different colors and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the bell peppers are soft.
For my dinner I added some ground pork, some capers and a bit of anchovy paste. I opted for a creamy butternut squash as the bed for the pepperonata and Romesco sauce. The Romesco Sauce is something that we sell online and it is a blend of heirloom tomatoes, peppers, almonds and spices. It pairs perfectly with squash, as well as many other veggies and meats.
For another great recipe making a bunless pepperonata burger, click here.
Pepperonata Side Dish Sauté as a topping for veggies or proteins
- 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups assorted sweet peppers chopped
- 1 medium onion roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 tsp anchovy paste or 2 anchovy filets (optional)
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 2 Tbsp Romesco sauce (optional)
- Heat olive oil in a large (12-inch skillet or saute pan over high heat. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Add the peppers and onions to the skillet and saute, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute quickly being careful not to burn the garlic (only needs about 30 seconds. Add anchovy paste to skillet.
- Lower the heat to medium and continue cooking until the onions are translucent and the peppers are soft (about another 10 minutes).
- While the peppers are cooking cut the squash in half and place on baking sheet flesh-side down. Cook squash at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Check to see if squash is done by poking flesh with a fork and if it gives easily it is done.
- Serve squash as a bed topped with pepperonata and provide Romesco sauce on the side to top off the saute. You could also serve the squash as a side dish without the pepperonata on top, and then just use the Romesco as a topping for the squash alone as an enhanced side dish.
For another great use of pepperonata, click here to see the recipe for a Pepperonata Burger.
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