Not to be confused with padron peppers, these are sweet without the heat. Serve fried and blistered in olive oil from the Puglia Kitchen garden, with a sprinkle of sea salt. Or like jewels, softly sautéed in garlic infused olive oil, with tomato and onion.
Cooking with the colours of Italy
Cooking in the Puglia Kitchen, we’re immediately reassured by the colours of our ingredients. The tricolore of green, white and red.
Either method of cooking these southern Italian peppers is reasonably failsafe. As with so many of our regional dishes, simplicity is the key. The hard work is done by the seasonal, flavourful ingredients. Friggitelli (in local dialect ‘cornaletti’), onions and garlic from the market and our own extra virgin olive oil and garden tomatoes.
Friggitelli with tomatoes
Prep 10 min
Cook 20 min
500g cherry tomatoes
1 medium onion thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves
8-10 tbsp olive oil
Salt, pepper to taste
Wash the peppers. Shake off any excess water. If you prefer you can cut off the top and open them to remove the seeds. We don’t bother, although we don’t eat the stalks.
Cut the washed tomatoes in half. If you are using larger than cherry tomatoes, quarter them or cut into chunks. Small tomatoes can be left whole. We keep the seeds, they emulsify with the olive oil to give the dish a silky finish.
Pour 6 tbsp of the olive oil into a large frying pan. Once it’s hot, but before smoking, add the sliced garlic to scent the oil. Do not let it burn, it should turn golden brown. Once it does, remove it from the oil and add the peppers.
Cook over a medium heat, turning them to prevent them from burning. Don’t be afraid to press them down into the pan. There is pleasure to be had hearing them squeal and snap. Season with salt.
Add the sliced onion and the tomato and cook for 5/6 minutes, stirring regularly. Once the onion has softened and the tomatoes have cooked, the juices should have emulsified with the olive oil. If necessary, you can add the rest of the oil. Turn the heat down, put a lid on the pan and let it stew in the juices for another 5 minutes.
You can leave out the onions. Where we live they tend to be added, and we do find they give the dish a sweetness that compliments the friggitelli. But if there is such a thing – Italian cuisine thrives on provincial loyalties that account for diverging recipes passed down the generations – the ‘classic’ recipe is without.
Taste and season, serve immediately (with a chunk of bread to mop up those juices).
Simply salted fried friggitelli
To snack on, with a glass of crisp chilled white wine or beer, we often serve up a simple plate of fried friggitelli, sprinkled with sea salt.
These are as much fun to cook as they are delicious to eat. Press the peppers into the pan to encourage them to char and squeal. Once collapsed they are ready to eat as finger food, sprinkled with sea salt for flavour and crunch.