Peperonata Recipe

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A rustic Southern Italian dish traditionally from Calabria, made of stewed peppers with tomatoes, onions and herbs, peperonata Calabrese showcases the beauty of peppers like no other dish. Lovely as a healthy vegetarian side dish spooned over a bed of creamy polenta, as an appetizer on top of bruschetta or as main dish tossed together with your favorite short pasta like rigatoni or penne. 


This is a really nostalgic dish for me as it reminds me of the man in the photo. So I like to make it often during bell pepper season using a mix of colors and different heirloom tomato varieties. A healthy vegetarian peasant stew that feeds the soul and just never gets old.

Peperonata Ingredients

Wondering what to make it all the peppers and tomatoes this summer! This rustic stew/ sauce is the answer!

There’s different variations you can experiment with, I mostly stick to the more traditional recipe with lots of sauce to be wiped clean with some homemade potato bread.

You could add mushroom ( con I funghi ), thinly sliced potatoes, eggplant and zucchini (peperonata zucchine e melanzane), even poach a couple of eggs in there for a riff on Sicilian eggs in purgatory.

Traditional Italian Peperonata Sauce

Simply put: an Italian ratatouille!

You could even add some olives or salty capers on top and serve it on the antipasto platter.

Peperonata Ingredients

Make it Spicy

If you like things a little spicy as I do, you may want to add a little fiery chili pepper in there at the beginning, otherwise keep it sweet “dolce” mild and kid friendly. It’s particularly nice served on top of creamy polenta, Italian rice, fluffy olive oil mashed potatoes and mopped with Italian crusty bread.

Peperonata with Tomatoes, Onions and Bell Peppers

If you make this recipe please don’t forget to come back here and leave us a rating in the comment section below, it always makes my day ~ Florentina Xo’s

4.50 from 2 votes

Traditional Peperonata Recipe

A rustic Southern Italian dish traditionally from Calabria, made of stewed pepper with tomatoes, onions and herbs, peperonata Calabrese showcases the beauty of peppers like no other dish.
Print Recipe
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:25 minutes
Total Time:35 minutes



  • Slice the leek in half lengthwise and reserve half for later. Slice up the other half and rinse it well in a bowl of cold water. Scoop the leeks out of the water and dry them well on a tea towel.
  • Warm up a large skillet on medium low flame. Add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and the leeks with a pinch of sea salt. Saute for about 10 minutes until they start to get some color. Add the re pepper flakes.
  • Rinse and cut the bell peppers into 1 inch pieces. Add them to the skillet with the leeks and give everything a good stir. 
  • Slice the red onion into 1 inch pieces as well and add it to the skillet. Stir well and cook everything together for about 10 minutes until the peppers start to soften and get some color.
  • Meanwhile wash and cut the tomatoes into wedges or similar size pieces with the peppers.
  • Add the minced garlic to the pan and give everything a good stir. Cook 30 seconds then add the tomatoes. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and cover with a lid. Cook another 5 minutes or so until the tomatoes burst and release their juices.
  • Squeeze the juice from half a lemon to the Peperonata, taste and adjust seasonings with more sea salt and lemon juice.
  • Remove from heat and finish with a light drizzle of extra virgin olive and sprinkle with the fresh basil, chives and oregano. 
  • Serve with crusty bread, creamy polenta, toss with your favorite short pasta or cous cous. 


Calories: 310kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 600mg | Potassium: 834mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 4395IU | Vitamin C: 156.8mg | Calcium: 98mg | Iron: 3.2mg
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 310kcal
Author: Florentina
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  1. 4 stars
    We made this dish tonight using both red & yellow Sweet Palermo peppers and a mix of yellow & purple heirloom tomatoes. We didn’t have any leeks on hand so we left that out, and used a Texas sweet yellow onion instead of a red onion. Last substitution was 3 tablespoons of an inexpensive balsamic vinegar instead of lemon juice. We left out the red pepper flakes allowing seasonng to individual tastes: By the time we got all that done, we just used it as a main course over some bronze cut penne rigate, added some mozzarella pearls, topped off with freshly grated Sartori Starvecchio parmesan and a drizzle of 4 leaf balsamic vinegar. I crushed one of the dried wild chiltepines that grow every year in our yard, my wife passed on adding any chile flakes etc. to her plate. That was a great combination! I mentioned to my wife the only thing I could think of to further change was maybe adding some bacon, so that’s our plan for tomorrow’s supper with the leftovers! Thanks for providing the recipe with a writeup showing how adaptable this dish is to individual tastes!

  2. 5 stars
    Absolutely divine with homegrown tomatoes. We just eat it with bread and it’s perfect. Thanks for sharing Florentina!

  3. Hi Florentina, I loved your recipe. I just made it today. Maybe my comment comes too late, but I just discovered your blog. One question (self answered, I guess) when do you add the half of the leek your left aside in step one. Do you mean “for later” in life? Please excuse me if the question is too silly. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. Hi Fiorentina

    My father is from Calabria and he likes it with lots of chillies. Mum adds potatoes for the rest of us. In western Sicily, where there used to be an Arab influence, they add sultanas for sweetness.

    Btw, the pen-shaped pasta is called “Penne”. “Pene” with only one n means penis. 😉

    Love your site!

    1. Yes indeed, there are probably a few typos on this blog going on my to do list now 😉
      I love adding sliced potatoes to the peperonata too, so comforting!

  5. My mother-in-law from Hungary made something very similar to this. It was called letcho. When it was done, she added some of her own cream. and t was served as a quick soup with homemade fresh bread on the side.