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)
- Wash and thoroughly dry peppers then cut into strips.
- Peel eggplant cut into thick slices then chunks.
- Dredge eggplant chunks in flour and shake off excess.
- 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.
- Fry floured eggplant chunks in same oil until golden brown, drain and set aside.
- Drain the oil from the skillet leaving about 2 tablespoons in the pan.
- 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.
- Add fried eggplant and peppers together lightly tossing them in the sauce until well coated.
- 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.