Updated: Nov 17
When you find a perfect new recipe you can be a little evangelical about it. This is one of those recipes. Please try this tonight. It was a huge hit at our house. Even the Decavore asked for seconds. You most likely have all or most of the ingredients on hand.
This recipe is adapted from Nancy Silverton's peperonata and passata di pomodori in the excellent online cooking series Yes, Chef. I had never heard of Nancy Silverton before trying this recipe, and now I know she is a very famous chef. Nancy is like someone out of Ancient Greek literature, in which goddesses roam the earth interfering with regular human activities. Except Nancy is just telling you the correct way to roast vegetables.
One of the great things about this dish is that you can fully indulge in cooked red peppers without having to peel them. I hate peeling red peppers, because it involves charring them until their skins blister, and then sweating them in a plastic bag. There should be a word for the unique ickiness of this process. Some brutish people put red peppers directly onto stovetop gas flames to char them. I can't even look. The next step involves juking broiling hot peppers into a flimsy plastic bag in order to asphyxiate them so that the skins fall off. This seems mildly dangerous, not to mention revolting. None of that heinousness required here.
I cooked this while watching Elizabeth and Essex on my favorite channel, TCM. If broadcast TV is on at our house, it's generally tuned to TCM. Peperonata seems to go well with colorized Errol Flynn perambulating in thigh high boots telling Bette Davis she can't have a career.
1 28-ounce can of tomatoes, including their juices
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
fresh thyme or basil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup olive oil
4 large garlic cloves thinly sliced (you can use a mandoline, or you can use a razorblade, like Paul Sorvino in Goodfellas. I like a movie that includes kitchen hacks)
1 medium red onion sliced ¼-inch thick
1 tbsp Spanish sherry vinegar
4 red bell peppers, thinly sliced in even strips
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup pitted black olives (I did not have very good olives so used these cured antipasti olives, which were extravagant but great!)
Pass canned tomatoes, including their juices, through a food mill into a medium saucepan.
(I don't have a food mill so I mashed the tomato through a sieve).
Discard the seeds and skins that remain in the food mill or sieve.
Put the saucepan over medium heat and add sugar, salt, and pepper, stirring to incorporate.
Add herbs and extra-virgin olive oil.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 30 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly.
This should make at least a cup of sauce needed for the recipe.
Adjust the oven rack to the middle and pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
Add the garlic, onion, and sauté for 1 minute, until they become soft and transluscent
Season with salt and drizzle with more oil as needed.
Add red bell peppers and season with several turns of pepper.
Sauté while occasionally stirring until the peppers begin to soften, about 10 minutes.
Add the sherry vinegar and oregano, and stir to combine.
Stir in tomato sauce and cook 2 minutes
Spoon the pepper mixture into a large baking dish or ovenproof skillet and smooth the top with a wooden spoon or spatula to make it level.
Top the pepper mixture with olives and put the baking dish on a small sheet pan to catch any drips that may bubble over.
Transfer the peperonata to the oven to bake for at least 1 hour, until the edges start to char.
You can serve this as a side dish, or do like the Decavore and just make this your entire dinner.