Compote of Red Peppers, Zucchini, and Tomatoes

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    6 to 8

    ; makes about 1½ cups

Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

There are numerous Mediterranean pepper, onion, and tomato medleys. This one, called marmouma, of Tunisian-Jewish origin, is often confused with French ratatouille or North African chachouka. Actually, chachouka never contains eggplant or zucchini, while ratatouille does.

The slower you cook the vegetables here, the more caramelization will develop on the bottom of the pan. The more often you fold these caramelized bits and pieces back into the vegetables, the more delicious your marmouma will become.

This is a good dish to cook in an electric skillet, where it's easy to control the temperature and from which moisture can steadily evaporate while the vegetables caramelize. If you cook in a large ordinary skillet, be sure to use a heavy one to keep the temperature uniformly low. Be careful, as there is a fine line between caramelizing and burning. Too much browning, and the dish will turn bitter.

Marmouma should be refrigerated at least overnight before serving. It will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, improving as it mellows. Serve as one of a trio of North African salads, or simply smeared on toasted bread.

Ingredients

  • 1¾ to 2 pounds red ripe tomatoes (about 7) (see Note)
  • 1 pound green frying peppers
  • 1 small red (bell) pepper
  • ½ pound zucchini
  • 7 large garlic cloves
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • 2 pinches of ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained

Method

  1. Halve the tomatoes; gently squeeze out the seeds. Place the tomatoes, cut sides down, on paper towels.
  2. Core and seed the peppers and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Quarter the zucchini and cut into thin slices. Peel the garlic but leave whole.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, and when hot, add the tomatoes, cut sides down. Place the peppers, zucchini, and garlic on top and cook, uncovered, without stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the salt. Cover and cook the vegetables for 15 minutes longer.
  4. Carefully pick out the tomato skins and discard them. Continue to cook the mixture until all the moisture has evaporated and it starts to fry in the released oil, about 1 hour. If necessary, use a few drops of water to scrape up any caramelized bits stuck to the bottom of the pan and fold them into the vegetables.
  5. Stir in the sugar, cayenne, and coriander and continue to fry, stirring, for 10 minutes. When everything is very thick and has reduced to about cups, remove from the heat and drain in a colander. (About tablespoons oil can be recouped from the draining; reserve this oil for cooking or for sprinkling over the marmouma.) Garnish with capers just before serving.