Sweet Pepper Stew (aka Peperonata)

A peperonata stew with sweet peppers, tomatoes, capers | mjskitchen.com

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Sweet Pepper Stew is a version of the Italian dish – Peperonata – that is normally made in the fall when there is an abundance of different colored sweet peppers. However, several years ago Bobby made this lovely dish for me for Valentine’s Day and it’s been our traditional Valentine’s Day dinner every since.  I also love making it for the holidays because it is so colorful and complements many other dishes.

Buying organic fresh sweet peppers this time a year is not cheap, but this dish is well worth the price. To the peppers we add frozen tomatoes and basil from our summer garden, along with a few capers.  After resting in the refrigerator overnight, this sweet pepper stew becomes quite “juicy” from the tomatoes and flavorful from the melding of all of the wonderful ingredients.  You can eat it by itself, or serve it with a nice baguette or homemade bread or as a side dish.  It’s also quite good served with or over creamy polenta.  And if you are serving it as a Valentine’s Day meal, finish your meal off with a Coffee Scented Chocolate Pot for a delicious and memorable home dining experience.

Sweet Pepper Stew (Peperonata)

A peperonata stew with sweet peppers, tomatoes, capers | mjskitchen.com

Sweet Pepper Stew (Peperonata) Recipe
15 mins
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
Adapted from The Vegetarian Table: Italy.  Serve as a meal of side dish.

This dish takes less than 45 minutes but is at its tastiest when left to season overnight in the refrigerator.  (Revised Dec 2017 - revisions marked with a "+")

"*" See Kitchen Notes for more information or links to special ingredients.

Course: Main Course, Side Dish, Vegetarian
Cuisine: Italian
Yields: 4 servings
Recipe Author: Adapted by MJ of MJ's Kitchen
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion. sliced thin (¼")
  • 6 garlic cloves. sliced thin
  • 6 medium to large sweet peppers. cored and sliced (¼-½")*
  • 1 ½ - 2 cups diced tomatoes (with liquid), fresh, frozen or canned*
  • 1/4 cup red wine+
  • 1 Tbsp. capers, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh basil*, chopped or 1 Tbsp. pesto or frozen basil*
Suggested Toppings
  • Capers, rinsed and left whole (for garnish)
  • Pecorino Romano+, shaved
  • Fresh basil, chopped
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium low heat.
  2. When hot, add the onion and garlic and saute' for about 5 minutes or until they start to soften. If they start to brown, lower the heat.

  3. Add the bell pepper, and saute' gently, stirring occasionally for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes and red wine*, stir gently, and bring to a simmer.  Cover and let the peppers soften, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes or until the peppers are tender, but not mushy.

  5. Remove from the heat. Add the minced capers and basil. Stir to combine.
  6. Let the stew cool, transfer to the refrigerator and let sit overnight or for at least 4 hours.

  7. When ready to serve, reheat, scoop into bowls, top with a few capers, fresh basil or shaved Pecorino Romano.  Serve with a crusty loaf of bread.

Kitchen Notes

Sweet Peppers – A variety of colors makes a beautiful dish.  However, avoid green bell peppers since they haven’t ripened into sweet peppers yet and could give your dish a bitter taste.


Tomatoes – Regardless of whether you use fresh, frozen or canned, do not drain. You want the juice to help form a “stew”. If using canned tomatoes, use the 1/4 cup red wine to rinse the can, then pour into the stew.


Basil – Fresh basil is always best; however, a little pesto or frozen basil works great.  Below is the method I use to freeze fresh basil.



A peperonata stew with sweet peppers, tomatoes, capers | mjskitchen.com

How to Freeze Basil

Process for Freezing Fresh Basil

When you have a large batch (a grocery bag full) of fresh basil, you can create a basil puree' that can be frozen and used all winter. Here is how I freeze my summer basil.

Course: Condiments, Preserving
Recipe Author: MJ of MJ's Kitchen
  • 1 large batch fresh basil
  • water
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt
  1. Start of pot of water on the stove top and bring to a boil. 
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, gently remove the leaves from the stems.

  3. Remove the water from the heat.  Blanch the leaves in the hot water by dropping in the water, then quickly removing using a slotted spoon. (This helps the basil to stay green and not turn brown.)

  4. Transfer blanched basil to a blender.
  5. When the blender is loosely packed with basil, add about 1/4 cup olive oil to blender, ¼ tsp. salt. Blend, adding more basil and olive oil (a little at a time), until you have a puree' of basil.

  6. Method 1:  Pour into an ice tray and freeze. Once frozen, pop out the ice cubes and transfer to freezer bags. Press as much air as possible from the bag and seal. Freeze and use as needed.

  7. Method 2:  (This method is best when keeping basil frozen for more than 3 months. It prevents freezer burn.)  Pour the pureed basil into a plastic freezer bag, filling about halfway. With the bag sitting upright, squeeze out all of the air.  Seal.  Turn on side and gently press puree' flat. Freeze flat.  To use, just break off what you need, and reseal, removing all air.


The Vegetarian Table Cookbooks

Five of the Vegetarian Table Cookbook Series | mjskitchen.com

If you like vegetarian cookbooks, then I would highly recommend The Vegetarian Table cookbook series.  These cookbooks were published back in the 1990’s.  Each book focuses on the cuisine of one country and each has a different author.  I have Italy, France, Japan, North Africa, and Thailand.  I love them all!!

Every book is professionally published with gorgeous food photography, and authentic recipes. This Sweet Pepper Stew was adapted from a recipe in the Italy cookbook by Julia Della Croce.  I would also recommend her Minestrone.

Because these cookbooks were published almost 20 years ago, they are now very reasonably priced and worth checking out.



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46 Responses to “Sweet Pepper Stew (aka Peperonata)”

  1. Nami | Just One Cookbook February 26, 2015 at 12:27 am #

    That is so lovely that this is your valentine’s dish!!! So bright and cheerful and it’s DELICIOUS!!! They are very sweet, just like you two! <3

    • mj February 26, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

      Thank you SO much Nami for such a sweet comment!

  2. Sanjeeta kk February 23, 2015 at 1:27 am #

    Lovely…this stew would make a perfect accompaniment to my Indian flat breads!

    • mj February 24, 2015 at 4:15 pm #

      Yes it would! You make the greatest flatbreads! I would have loved to have one with this stew.

  3. Terra February 17, 2015 at 2:28 pm #

    This would be fun to add to a pasta dish, simple and gorgeous! It sounds delicious, Hugs, Terra

    • mj February 17, 2015 at 7:18 pm #

      Thanks Terra!

  4. minnie@thelady8home February 17, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

    We don’t do anything on Valentine’s day, but it’s awesome when you create traditions to celebrate it….how romantic! Pepper and capers, straight to my heart!

    • mj February 17, 2015 at 7:15 pm #

      It think this tradition became to be because we just couldn’t stand going out to eat on Valentine’s, so Bobby came up with a solution.

  5. Gloria February 17, 2015 at 9:05 am #

    looks so delish ..loved the pics..hope you doing good..

    • mj February 17, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

      Thanks Gloria! I am doing good. Hope you’re doing well!

  6. Jen L | Tartine and Apron Strings February 17, 2015 at 7:18 am #

    I love me a good peperonata. Perfect on a slice of grilled ciabatta. Mmmmm, so good!

    • mj February 17, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

      Peperonata and ciabatta – YUM!

  7. Amy (Savory Moments) February 16, 2015 at 9:23 am #

    This pepper stew looks so vibrant, healthy, and delicious! I don’t really have a traditional Valentine’s Day meal – just chocolate haha 🙂

    • mj February 17, 2015 at 7:12 pm #

      Nothing wrong with chocolate for a Valentine’s tradition. 🙂 It’s definitely part of our tradition, too.

  8. Raymund February 15, 2015 at 11:39 am #

    Love sweet peppers like this, perfect for a side dish

    • mj February 17, 2015 at 7:12 pm #

      Thanks Raymund!

  9. Asmita February 15, 2015 at 3:38 am #

    Wow! Peppers, caper, basil! What’s there not to love. Loving all the flavors here.

    • mj February 17, 2015 at 7:12 pm #

      Thanks Asmita!

  10. Viviane Bauquet Farre February 14, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

    An unusual but delicious-looking V-Day tradition! Enjoy your peperonata tonight, MJ 🙂

    • mj February 17, 2015 at 7:11 pm #

      Thanks Viviane! Hope you had a wonderful Valntine’s!

  11. Mariana @The Candid Kitchen February 13, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

    What a lovely tradition to have this dish at Valentine’s. Thanks for sharing x

    • mj February 17, 2015 at 7:11 pm #

      Thanks Mariana!

  12. Vicki Bensinger February 13, 2015 at 9:41 am #

    I love the sound of this and make something similar but never with the addition of tomatoes. I think that makes it sound even more appealing. This is a nice dish that can accompany a variety of menus. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

    • mj February 17, 2015 at 7:10 pm #

      Thanks Vicki! I’m not sure if peperonata is usually made with tomatoes or not, but for this stew, the tomatoes help to create a very tasty broth.

  13. Katerina February 13, 2015 at 3:52 am #

    Mediterranean countries share same dishes with minor changes. I love peperonata and we make something similar here! Your dish looks absolutely perfect! Pinned!

    • mj February 17, 2015 at 7:09 pm #

      Thanks Katerina! I’m sure you’ve made this many times, so I appreciate your feedback.

  14. Evelyne@cheapethniceatz February 12, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

    Seeing sweet peppers on your blog seems almost wrong lol, with all the chile. But it is a beautiful dish and you are so right the colors are perfect for St-Valentine. Sounds like a great series of book, maybe I’ll come across one some time in a used book store.

    • mj February 17, 2015 at 7:09 pm #

      I know, I know…sweet peppers? I just don’t know what got into me. 🙂 Thanks Evelyn and hope you had a great Valentine’s!

  15. swathi February 11, 2015 at 5:46 pm #

    Delicious I haven’t heard the name pepronata, Sounds delicious, my kids are red bell pepper fan. I will make it for her.

    • mj February 11, 2015 at 8:30 pm #

      Thanks Swathi!

  16. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles February 11, 2015 at 4:43 pm #

    What a lovely little stew… I am not familiar with Peperonata but I understand the appeal – I think the combination of ingredients, including the capers, would be a delight. I’m also smiling re: the call for 6 cloves of garlic — I don’t always come across bloggers who enjoy garlic quite as much as I do :D.

    How sweet that Bobby makes this for you for Valentine’s day. My husband is many things (and I’m one lucky gal) but cooking has never been his thing. Our tradition back at home was to pre-order a three-course meal from an Italian shop around the corner from us and enjoy it at home. Nicastros made the most delicious homespun takeout menu every year for Valentine’s day… gosh, just thinking about it makes me nostalgic. We’ll have to create some new traditions here – I could see this stew in our future!

    • mj February 11, 2015 at 8:30 pm #

      Oh yes…you’ll always find multiple cloves of garlic in my of my dishes. In fact, I’ve been known to smash a roasted garlic clove on a baguette slice, and pile a little peperonata on top. Talk about YUM!! I love YOUR Valentine tradition! What a great idea for a restaurant for Valentine’s. So many people go out to eat, but so many more want to stay at home, but not mess up the kitchen. I think that’s a lot of the appeal of this dish. You can make it the day before, so a nice clean kitchen on Valentine’s. 🙂 I look forward to hearing about your new VDay tradition.

  17. Nads February 11, 2015 at 10:05 am #

    To me this looks like a summer meal to be eaten on a day when it is too hot for a heavy hot meal. I love the ‘make it ahead of time’ aspect. It seems like it could be very versatile too. For my carnivores I would have to throw in some shrimp or chicken fajitas. I like the idea of eating it on toasted baguette slices like bruschetta. Have you ever eaten it cold over lettuce or arugula? Oh dear! Now my mouth is watering and no sweet peppers in the house. Time for a trip to the market.

    • mj February 11, 2015 at 8:23 pm #

      Well, actually this can be serve cold on a hot summer day, but we do find it a refreshing hot winter dish. It makes me think of warmer weather. 🙂 And yes, for the carnivores in the family, chicken fajitas and check would be yummy. No, I haven’t served it over lettuce or arugula, but I have had it over slices of baguettes. Thanks for your comment Darlin!

  18. Sissi February 11, 2015 at 8:54 am #

    What a lovely Valentine’s Day tradition! (We don’t have any… we don’t really “practice” it, but I wouldn’t mind setting up a day every year when my husband cooks for me something special… it sounds really like a great idea!).
    I love peperonata and yours looks lovely, so “late summery”… I cannot believe we are in the middle of the winter! Actually it reminds me of a pepper, egg and anchovy salad I made from a Spanish book once! It also contained capers and I loved the combination (ok, I love capers in everything…). Every time I see your gorgeous black dish photographs I think I should do the same and throw out all the other colours 😉

    • mj February 11, 2015 at 8:20 pm #

      Oh yes…capers are good in anything! Love the sound of pepper, egg and anchovy salad. Yes, this is more of a late summer dish, but I guess it’s the colors that make it nice for Valentine’s plus it mentally takes me to warmer weather. 🙂 Thanks Sissi!

  19. Trisha February 11, 2015 at 2:21 am #

    I love this recipe – looks so healthy and delicious!

    • mj February 11, 2015 at 8:16 pm #

      Thanks Trisha!

  20. Anne@FromMySweetHeart February 10, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

    Oh MJ….this is gorgeous! My son will love this since he’s recently found a love for sweet peppers! And I think I should make this my yearly Valentine’s dish. I would love to be sopping this up with some crusty bread. And your coffee chocolate pots would be a terrific finish! : )

    • mj February 11, 2015 at 8:16 pm #

      Thanks so much Anne! A crusty bread is perfect with this!

  21. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef February 10, 2015 at 3:30 pm #

    I can imagine spooning this on a piece of baguette and then down the hatch. I love this recipe!

    • mj February 10, 2015 at 7:36 pm #

      Thanks Maureen! Oh it’s SO good scooped onto a baguette! 🙂

  22. Angie@Angie's Recipes February 10, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

    My husband loves sweet peppers, but he usually eats them raw in salads. I must make this for him as it looks very delicious.

    • mj February 10, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

      Thanks Angie! This is the next best thing to raw peppers. 🙂

  23. John@Kitchen Riffs February 10, 2015 at 11:15 am #

    Love the top photo! Love the recipe, too. I’ve made something similar, but it’s been years. Never thought to pair it with polenta — love that idea! I vaguely remember this cookbook series. I think! Seems familiar, but sometimes my mind plays tricks. I love buying used cookbooks — always fun to discover something I’ve overlooked. And they’re so affordable! Good post — thanks.

    • mj February 10, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

      Thanks so much John! Be sure to check out those cookbooks. I paid a lot more for than 20 years ago than they are going for now. 🙂

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