In deep summer, I go to bed at night dreaming of the dish that I know my mother will soon prepare. Once locally harvested eggplant, red peppers and tomatoes are available, it’s only a matter of time before my mother takes those simple ingredients and turns them into a creamy, colourful dish that to me is summer at its very best: Peperonata.
This brilliant dish is, for me, Italian soul food at its best. All you need is a fork, some crusty bread and a glass of cool wine.
And of course, in my humble opinion, no one makes a better Peperonata than Mama Cream Puff. As a reminder to everyone that the deadline for La Festa al Fresco is this Monday, September 3rd, I give you one of my mother’s best summer dishes.
It is the essence of summer.
Treasured family recipe.
4 red peppers (we use a type of pepper called Shepperd pepper which is long and narrow – if you can’t find these, use bell peppers)
1 small eggplant
1-1/4 cups crushed tomatoes
4 basil leaves
3 to 4 tbsp. olive oil
3/4 tbsp. salt
Cut peppers into 1-inch strips. (If using bell peppers, cut into 3/4-inch strips). Cut eggplant into 1/2-inch strips.
Heat 3 tbsp. olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and add peppers. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes. (Bell peppers will take a bit longer.) Be sure to stir occasionally.
Add eggplant to cooking peppers. The eggplant will absorb a lot of the oil so add more if you notice that the mixture is too dry.
Cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add half the salt and stir.
Move the pepper and eggplant mixture to one side of the pan so that it is covering about three-quarters of the pan.
To the remaining quarter of the pan, add the crushed tomatoes, the basil and remaining salt. Heat for about 2 minutes and then blend the entire contents of the pan together.
Continue to cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature with lots of bread!