Peperonata with olive-grilled ciabatta, basil and parmesan shavings

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • For

    four to six

Appears in

The Café Paradiso Cookbook

The Café Paradiso Cookbook

By Denis Cotter

Published 1999

  • About

The quality of the oil is crucial here, and the quantity too, though I know it seems a lot and there are many peperonata recipes without it - I once ate one in Sicily that was close to a puree. The idea of my version is a very rich stew, meltingly comforting but with a little kick, the sweetness of the peppers drawn out by slow and low simmering in a fruity olive oil: the slowness teases out the peppers, the low heat leaves the flavour in the olive oil. You can leave out the olives and the chilli, but cook something else rather than leave out the oil. This is my favourite way of serving peperonata, though grilled polenta shows it off well too, and it’s not too proud to act as a side dish, especially if eggs, risotto or pasta are involved.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 100 mls olive oil
  • 6 red and/or yellow peppers
  • 1 small chilli, finely chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, sliced in half rounds
  • 10 black olives, stoned
  • salt
  • 1 small ciabatta loaf
  • 3 tblspns tapenade
  • fresh basil
  • 60 g fresh parmesan

Method

SLICE THE ONION INTO THIN QUARTER ROUNDS, put it in a heavy pan with the garlic and the olive oil and slowly bring the oil up to a very low heat. Chop the peppers into thickish strips, about 15 mm, and add them to the pan with the chilli. Bring the heat back up to a low simmer and cover the pan. Check occasionally to make sure that the contents are not just sitting there, but stewing away gently. When the peppers are just tender, stir in the sliced tomatoes and the olives, and cook on until the peppers are beginning to soften and the tomatoes to break down. Add salt and turn off the heat, but leave the lid on, while you do the ciabatta. Like a lot of rich Mediterranean food, the peperonata will benefit from sitting quietly for a while and cooling down a few degrees.

Cut the ciabatta in half lengthways, spread a thin layer of tapenade on both halves and drizzle some olive oil over this. Pop the bread into a hot oven for a few minutes, or under a hot grill.

Serve the peperonata and some ciabatta wedges with plenty of freshly torn basil and shavings of parmesan scattered over.