Italian bell pepper, onion, tomato sauté, with garlic, ground oregano, and fresh basil.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Have you noticed the brightly colored bell peppers in the market lately? They’re glorious. Here’s a quick and easy recipe for Italian peperonata, or fried peppers, with onions, fresh plum tomatoes, garlic, and basil.

This is one of those “I almost ate the whole batch” dishes, only reluctantly shared with my parents who agreed they were terrific.

Peperonata recipes come in many versions; some get cooked a good long time, some get cooked with potatoes, or without tomatoes. This dish is certainly open-for-improvisation.

Rather than cooking the peppers until they were stew-like, we opted for a light sauté so there is still some crunch in the vegetables. A perfect side dish for chicken or fish, great on bread, and great on its own too.

By the way, we made a little video of a quick and easy way to slice bell peppers. Enjoy!

Peperonata Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded, sliced into 2 1/2 to 3-inch long strips
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, seeded, sliced into 2 1/2 to 3-inch long strips
  • 2 orange or green bell peppers, seeded, sliced into 2 1/2 to 3-inch long strips
  • 1 large onion, sliced into half-moons
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4-5 Roma or other plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, leaves torn roughly
  • Lemon juice


1 Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. When the oil is almost smoking, add the onions. Sprinkle with a little salt and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until the onions just begin to color.

2 Add the peppers and stir well to combine with the onions. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring often. The peppers should be al dente—cooked, but with a little crunch left in them.

3 Add the garlic, and sauté another 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle a little more salt over everything and add the sugar and dried oregano. Cook 1 minute. Add the diced tomatoes, and cook just one minute further.

4 Turn off the heat and mix in the torn basil. Grind some black pepper over everything. Right before serving squeeze a little lemon juice over the dish.

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Showing 4 of 21 Comments

  • Deb

    wow! I made this and served it on top of tri-tip beef dips….just wonderful. This was my first time to your blog, and I will definitely be back to try more, thanks for sharing!

  • Jared

    This meal is amazing. I cooked it up exactly like this then threw it on top of garlic spaghetti. I took it too work and by the end of the night there was not a pepper left on the plate. Thanks for helping me out :D

  • ella

    I made this for my family last night, and it was one of the most delicious dishes ever! I took a fresh loaf of french bread and made garlic bread, and put the peperonata over it to serve. Fantastic! I think the basil is a key ingredient and cannot be done without (although I did forget the lemon juice). Thank you for this post!

  • Amanda

    Mmmmm……delicious. Pretty sure I just committed a peperonata sin and ate it over pasta, but being a poor grad student, you stretch all meals out as far as you can. And this is a fabulous poor grad student recipe. Delicious, cheap and will last me about four days!!!! (I love your website so much, by the way. I introduced my mom to it this summer, and she’s in love with it now too!)

  • Ana

    Thanks so much for this easy Peperonata Recipe. I thought the pepper was supposed to be baked instead of frying them up. How silly I’m because I never cooked before in my life due I grew up having a maid and now I’m married and must cook for both my husband and toddler. They loved this delicious dish.

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