You know peperonata, or baked peppers is a dish that I cook oftentimes when I’m in Italy, in the summertime. Peppers are in season then. Where I live in the country, all my cooking is really using very ordinary vegetables. And so that’s what I really cook with all summer long. So peperonata is a baked pepper dish. First of all, I love the flavor of peppers when they’re baked. You know, their flavors are really concentrated. I have onions in there and garlic, oregano, black pepper, a little sherry wine vinegar for acid. It’s a great dish that you can prepare ahead of time and serve it directly from that dish or directly from the oven onto the table. I’m making peperonata, which is an Italian baked pepper dish. You know, the peperonata dish is a rustic dish. Let’s start out with the tomato sauce I’m making. So, I’m using San Marzano tomatoes. They’re canned. They really are the sweetest variety of tomatoes. Food mill the canned San Marzano tomatoes. ‘Cause I’m not gonna use it all. You know, I only have two salts, but I have three compartments. It’s a wooden box that a dear friend made me. I actually have a similar box that my father made me so they are my two favorite salt boxes. A little bit of sugar to add a little bit more sweetness. I’m going to add a little cracked black pepper. So this is not actually a pepper mill, it is a coffee grinder. Some fresh basil leaves. I’m gonna add some extra-virgin olive oil. So I’ll start with the cloves of garlic. You know, I have a lotta knives. First of all, I love knives, but when you’re a cook and you sorta travel the country doing events in different cities, one of the hosts of the event loves to give a knife as a gift. And so since I’ve been in the business for so many years, I have a lotta knives. A small knife like this is great for peeling garlic, a larger knife, that chef’s knife, certainly for slicing. Then I have serrated knives and I have boning knives and I have cleavers. I have all sorts of, I actually have three drawers full of knives. You know, some knives, I kind of treasure because they have a story. I have a beautiful rested knife that my father used to use. I have a knife that was given to me at a fundraiser for one of the great chefs, his name was Jean-Louis Palladin, that have his name on it. So for the peperonata, I’m using sliced garlic. I think most of the time I use garlic that I actually great on a microplane. When I want it in say, salad dressings, or pestos. When cooking over a high heat, I tend to use only a olive oil, not an extra-virgin or first pressed olive oil, because once olive oil is heated, it really loses all of its nuance. A couple cloves of garlic is just perfect. I slice onions. I cut them into quarters through the root so they stay intact while I peel the skins. Cutting the long ways, it’s much easier to cut them into strips that are even. Not only even for the way they look, but also even for the way they cook. You know, if you cut your onion into all sorts of sizes, some are gonna be undercooked and some are gonna be overcooked. So I turned off the tomato sauce. That is reduced enough because it’s gonna reduce even further when I bake the peppers. I’m taking the cores out of the peppers, just because sometimes my knife gets caught in the core, and then I’m gonna slice ’em. A messy kitchen makes messy food. This is a kosher salt and so it’s much easier to pick it up to season. I’m using sherry vinegar as opposed to say, sherry or a wine, because it is a vinegar. I’m getting a sharpness to it. I’m getting a good acidic element to the sweetness of the peppers. I’m just really just softening these peppers. I’m not cooking them all the way ’cause they’re gonna bake in the oven close to an hour. This is actually wild oregano. This is from Calabria, so it’s Italian, Southern Italy. I love to use oregano. It’s on the branch and dried. I think it is much more aromatic and much more flavorful than the dried oregano that you would buy in tiny hands or jars at the supermarket. Yeah. Sweeter but just, even though it’s dried, it just seems so much fresher. You know, it’s those little touches or that extra bit of sourcing that always makes food taste better. You know, everything’s important in cooking. The attention to detail, whether it’s the way you prepare it or the way that you source it, it all in the end makes a dish that much better. All right, I’m gonna strain. I’m not sure how much of this tomato sauce I’m gonna use. And actually, I don’t really even have to strain it, I just wanted to pick out that basil, but that’s okay. All right, here we go. Look at it, magic. Exactly the right amount. So very simple ingredients. All of them, you can really buy from the supermarket. Maybe the taggiasca olives, which are a Ligurian small, black olive, that might be an olive that you need to find at a well-stocked specialty store. All right, I’m gonna pop it in the oven. Okay. So what I’m looking for is I’m looking for my sauce to be reduced so it’s not watery. I know it’s bubbly, but it is reduced. It always makes it look healthier and that much more delicious when you see some of the edges having a little color. But these are done. I might say perfectly done. This to me is a great party dish ’cause you sort of plop it on either in the middle of the table or on the buffet and everybody could spoon in and help themselves. It really is a rustic dish.
James Beard Award-winning chef, best-selling cookbook author, and the restaurateur behind Michelin-starred Mozza, Nancy Silverton takes viewers on a journey from her home in Panicale, Italy, to her home in Los Angeles. Viewers learn a range of Nancy’s renowned dishes, including her signature Caesar Salad, Chi Spacca Pepper Steak, 10+ vegetarian dishes, Mom’s Apple Pie, and more.