I first learned about peperonata when my mom starting studying Italian as a hobby. What began as a fascination with the cuisine turned into a love for the language and culture as well. As you can imagine, no one complained that she’d taken up authentic Italian cooking! Eating at home is a joy for several reasons–the dinner menu being one of them.
I recall the day when I was away at graduate school and she called to tell me I must make peperonata. The goodness factor was right up there with risotto and oven roasted bruschetta. Since then, this dish has become a “new classic” in our home (and my satellite Hood station here on the west coast).
Peperonata is a savory, traditional Italian dish that combines sweet bell peppers with reduced balsamic vinegar. When served over vegan polenta, peperonata is the perfect comfort dish when you’re looking for something warming but not too heavy. This lighter, parmesan-free vegan recipe fills your kitchen with fragrance of old Italy and promises to delight even the most fickle eater.
This dish also makes great leftovers, so be sure to pack some for lunch! Alternatively, perperonata may serve as a lovely bruschetta topping.
Vegan Peperonata with Polenta
(Makes 3-4 servings)
4 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups corn meal (polenta)
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tbs. olive oil or vegetable broth
1 yellow onion, diced
1 tomato, roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 bell peppers (one red, one orange, one yellow)
1 cup dry white wine
2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1. Bring 4 cups of water and 1/2 tsp. salt to a boil. Gradually add the polenta, stirring constantly. Once all polenta is added, reduce heat to a simmer and add dried herbs (oregano, basil, and thyme). Stir for a few minutes while polenta becomes thick and lump-free. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. In a Dutch oven, warm olive oil over medium heat. Sauté onion until translucent (about five minutes), then add garlic. Stir for another minute. Add bell peppers and tomato, stirring until the bell peppers become soft (about 10 minutes).
3. Add wine and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover for 20 minutes.
4. Uncover, turn heat up to medium, add balsamic vinegar and stir for about 5-10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. (Be careful not to inhale the vinegar fumes!) Season with salt and pepper and serve over large scoops of polenta.
Also see: Potato Salad with Basil Sorrel Pesto
Photos: Mary Hood