Peperonata (Sautéed Peppers and Onions)

Peperonata or Sautéed Peppers and Onions - Italian bell pepper, onion, tomato sauté, with garlic, ground oregano, and fresh basil. An easy summer side dish.

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


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin 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 Sauté the onions: Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. When the oil is shimmering, 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: 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: Add the garlic, and sauté another 1-2 minutes.

4 Add salt, sugar, oregano: Sprinkle a little more salt over everything and add the sugar and dried oregano. Cook 1 minute.

5 Add the diced tomatoes, and cook just one minute further.

6 Add basil, black pepper, lemon juice: 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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  • 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.

  • Angela

    This would make a great pizza topping!

  • Don

    We made this last night and it was wonderful. The colors, textures and tastes were beautiful. Served with a bit of rice on the side. Next time, will add some bread crumbs and adopt other suggestions from posts.

  • Toni

    It’s funny – when one poster wrote about not liking pepper skins unless raw – because I’m the same way. If even a corner of a cooked pepper is coming up, I have to struggle and rip it off. For whatever strange reason, cooked peeling pepper skin is not something I can endure eating. Yuck!

    But other posters wrote about slow cooking the peppers – my question to them (or to you!) would be how to avoid that? Would going through that process of charring and steaming and peeling the skins off be the only way to avoid this? That also changes the consistency of the pepper, no?

    PS – I’m 100% Italian-American, and BOY do I love the smell of oregano! And strangely enough, I can’t stand eating raw tomatoes. LOVE sauce though! Just starting to be able to eat cooked – my family still teases me about the raw tomato thing. Every year I try to eat one of my dad’s home grown tomatoes, and every year I continue to dislike it. Maybe one day. Sigh! ;)

  • Sherihan

    Hey Elise, I was just thinking what to make to go alongside my tuna steaks today and I think I found it :) this looks delicious, I can already smell it mmmmm yumm and I am thinking of adding little cupes of potatoes as well, sounds goooood :)

  • E.Peevie

    Is there a reason you specified dried oregano instead of fresh? If fresh would work, how much?

    It’s traditional. You could easily use fresh. Double the amount. ~Elise

  • chigiy

    Hi Elise,
    Hey, I normally don’t like pepper skins unless I am eating them raw. I wonder how it would work out if you blackened the peppers and took the skins off, cut them up and put them in at the end of cooking just to warm them and mush the the flavors together. Is that too much work?

    Hi Chigiy, that’s certainly another way of doing it. The good thing about this particular recipe is that the peppers are barely cooked, so the skins aren’t as much of an issue. If you wanted the peppers to be more cooked, then charring them first and removing the peel is a great way to go. ~Elise

  • maxinemary

    I have made a version of this for years. I just add sliced zucchini rounds and call it ratatouille.My hubby loves it and could make a meal of it with a slice of crusty bread.

  • Jess

    I am married to an Italian & live in Italy and my mother in law makes peperonata with chopped anchovies and bread crumbs or potatoes. We eat it as a side dish, but I have been known to make an entire meal out of this yumminess.

  • Maya

    I am Italian and have grown up living off of peperonata.My family uses not only peppers, but eggplants onions, zucchini tomatoes as well as basil…soooo good on pastas with small pieces of soft cheeses like mozzarella

  • Giorgia

    In my home town (Northern Italy), we make peperonata with potatoes, peppers, tomatoes and aubergines. We cook everything for quite some time, very slowly and we add a lot of tomato sauce. It comibines very well with a roasted rabbit. Delicious!!

  • Maria Grazia

    You can also add tomatoes to it, capers and olives too. I am Italian ( Toscana) and we cook them both way. :-)

  • Amy M

    This looks super delish! I imagine it being a great topping on homemade pizza…with the addition of some spicy peppers. I wonder, is there any way to preserve large batches of this? Would you recommend it in the freezer?

    I haven’t tried freezing this, but if you do, please let us know how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  • DessertForTwo

    Oh yum! Now I have an idea what to do with all the peppers over-flowing from the garden. I’m imagining an eggplant parmesan sub with this all over the top! Mmmm!

  • Cooking with Michele

    I learned to make pepperonata at a cooking school in Puglia – 100% peppers slow cooked for a long time and tossed with some garlicky bread crumbs right before serving. It’s one of my favorite recipes from the school and I’m looking forward to taking another group there in the fall of 2011.

  • Jennifer Jo

    This is excellent over pasta with a glass of white wine.

  • Dan

    I make a variation of this, peperonata in agrodolce. Pretty much the same thing, with the following differences:
    – I cook the onions separately until they are well caramelized. For that, they need more heat time than the peppers.
    – when peppers and onions are almost done to my liking I mix then together and add about 1/2 cup good vinegar and a couple tbsp sugar, or honey. Then boil until the vinegar aroma boils off. This is the agrodolce part. I also add some raisins at this stage.
    – right at the end I add a couple tbsp breadcrumbs. The italians seem to add these into everything if you look at italian language recipe sites.
    Then I store them in a jar with basil leaves in layers. They get better after a couple of days, if they last that long.

    Sounds delicious Dan, thanks for sharing! ~Elise