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Friday, September 7, 2012

Peppers and Eggplant Calabrese

Being born and raised in an Italian family does not make one familiar with all Italian cuisine.

I enjoyed peppers prepared in several different ways while living at home and of course naturally assumed that all Italians inherited the same delicious recipes. 

No matter how my mother prepared peppers, whether roasted, stuffed, fried or  Pizzaiola the delicious aroma totally filled the house then permeated through the window frames filling a good part of the surrounding neighbourhood .

After meeting my husband who was born and raised in Calabria, Italy and sharing meals with his side of the family I realized that my mother had unfortunately not inherited this particular recipe for peppers and eggplant.

Finding it absolutely delicious and almost addictive I ventured to find out how it was made.

Discovering the differences of regional Italian cooking is an adventure in itself.  It’s interesting to note how within a rather small country  the cooking styles and ingredients can vary as much as they do by region. 

It’s not easy to capture recipes that have never been written down and only shared by word of mouth.  After chasing down these elusive recipes I take on the task of documenting what may otherwise become an endangered recipe species.

After getting a general idea on how to put this dish together and not quite understanding the instructions fully I began to experiment hoping to replicate this most delicious combination of vegetables.

I’m not quite sure if it would pass the taste test of all discriminating Calabrese palates but am proud to say that my version has been approved by the palate of the one Calabrese I aim to please most and am happy with that!

Peppers and Eggplant

These quantities are approximate and need not be exact.

4 to 5 large red Sheppard Peppers
1 medium size eggplant
2 to 3 cloves garlic
1 cup plain tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste
corn or vegetable oil for frying
2 to 3 hot peppers (optional)
  1. Wash and thoroughly dry peppers then cut into strips.
  2. Peel eggplant cut into thick slices then chunks.
  3. Dredge eggplant chunks in flour and shake off excess.
  4. Heat oil in a large skillet and fry pepper strips until they soften and begin to brown (do not overcook) drain with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  5. Fry floured eggplant chunks in same oil until golden brown, drain and set aside.
  6. Drain the oil from the skillet leaving about 2 tablespoons in the pan.
  7. Heat the oil and add crushed or finely minced garlic and saute until just starting to become golden, add tomato sauce, reduce heat and simmer until sauce reduces and becomes thick, add salt and pepper.
  8. Add fried eggplant and peppers together lightly tossing them in the sauce until well coated.
  9. Transfer to serving dish and serve warm or completely cooled.


 Notes, Tips and Suggestions
  • Hot peppers are generally added to the mix of sweet peppers. Because of the different preferences concerning spicy food a few hot peppers can be fried separately and enjoyed  by those who love them.
  • Thinner fleshed peppers such as the Sheppard variety seem to work well perhaps being the reason that I only make this dish when these peppers are in season.
  • Since both peppers and eggplant will be fried in the same oil, frying the peppers first is recommended. The flour on the eggplant will leave residue in the oil that will begin burning if the peppers are fried after the eggplant.
  • The finished product should not be sitting in a lot of sauce but just enough tomato sauce to coat the eggplant and peppers, almost undetectable. (It took me a while to achieve this.)
  • These should only be consumed with a loaf of  good,crusty Italian bread.
  • Number of servings remains undetermined depending on if you are willing to share any.


  1. another favorite, I have made this dish every Saturday since I was able to get fresh tomatoes from the yard, do you use fresh tomatoes or the sauce that you have prepared and bottled, in the winter I make this using Cubenele peppers and diced canned tomatoes, it works well also but not like in the summer. One tip, the Sicilian eggplant works really well with the peppers. Now that I have given you a few ideas I will continue to learn from you - lol -

    1. I have used both fresh and bottled sauce in this recipe, both are good,never used diced tomatoes.
      I actually have used the Cubanelle peppers the odd times I've made it in the winter. I think the bell peppers are too fleshy for this so I don't use them.
      I think the Sicilian works better for any eggplant dish but unfortunately is not always available.
      Thanks for commenting and that's what it's all about...learning from each other.

  2. I just bottled a bunch of sauce
    that I made from peeled roma tomatoes. I heated the bottles and the
    sauce and the lids. I did not hear all of them pop. Is there a way
    to guarantee that they are all properly sealed? Thanks for any
    suggestions, Sue

    1. Hi Sue,
      After sterilizing the lids in boiling water place them on the filled jars making sure that you have wiped the rims of the jars clean to ensure a proper seal.
      The jars must next be processed in a hot water bath (I use a large enamel canning pot for this)
      After the jars are placed in the pot bring the water up to a boil then allow to boil for at least a half hour.

      At this point you can remove the jars from the pot to cool or allow them to cool down in the pot.

      After they cool you will know if they have properly sealed if the lid is concave or to better describe it has been sucked inward. If you touch the center of the lid with your finger it should not go up and down. This would indicate an improper seal.

      You will not always hear a loud pop indicating a good seal. Some jars just prefer to seal quietly.
      I hope this helps, If something is unclear in the way I have explained it please ask more questions I will try to answer them to the best of my ability.

      If you end up with unsealed jars you can either repeat the process or store in the fridge for quick consumption.

      Thanks for your comment.

  3. elizabeth, mother of norahSeptember 11, 2012 at 5:13 AM

    Great photos with this post. I can't wait to see what your new camera will do. By the way, did you inherent the cream puff gene to please the one daughter you aim to please most? All of these recipes look like they'd be served well with a crusty loaf of bread.

  4. elizabeth, still the mother of norahSeptember 11, 2012 at 5:14 AM

    That was really poor English. I blame it on low (cream puff) blood sugars.

    1. Divulging secrets again...penalty...cream puff delay!!

      Also,your Calabrese genes only account for half therefore since you are not a true blood Calabrese you are not eligible.

    2. elizabeth, who sees 60% of herself in NorahSeptember 11, 2012 at 6:44 AM

      Well whose fault is that?! I only half half Calabrese genes because my "other half" came from a more refined source, let's say? Plus, think of all the times you said "you're your father's daughter"... you might be suggesting it's more like a 60%-40% balance, no? Therefore, we can reasonably conclude, I deserve more cream puffs.

    3. You seem to have ignored the first part of my last reply.

      Now everyone will expect better pictures!!

  5. Thanks so much. I will do this next time. You have explained it