My fondest childhood memories are of my mother slicing colourful red and yellow capsicums; the scent of caramelising onions, garlic and olive oil drifting from a saucepan. Added along with tomatoes and a little vinegar, the capsicums stewed happily for 40 minutes until soft, producing Peperonata: an Italian stew served with antipasto.
These memories, evoked whenever I encounter the intricate flavour of this melange, prompted me to prepare Peperonata for the “A Taste of Europe” Food Fair. It’s really special to me, so I wanted to share it with the lovely people I met over these past weeks. Making Peperonata was wonderful; slicing the capsicums carried my thoughts to that first recollection of my mother preparing it for me.
I paired the Peperonata alongside a platter of homemade polenta, which I cut into slices and fried until crisp. Making polenta was a real highlight! I did it the hard way using coarse polenta flour rather than instant, so it was hard work stirring the unimaginably thick batter for 40 minutes! When cooking, the sound of vapour escaping was like a steam-train: I couldn’t stop laughing! My mother (whose strong arm I enlisted to help me!) and I had now done our daily exercise. Laughing, we commented that all the stirring would be good for getting rid of ‘bingo wings’!
Served in red bowls to accentuate the capsicum colour, the Peperonata looked inviting (if I do say so myself!). Enhancing the beautiful sweet-and-sour capsicum flavour, the polenta’s subtle taste really complemented the Peperonata and added a lovely textural element. It tasted just like mum’s! Others enjoyed it too, remarking that presentation was beautiful and the tangy capsicums were delicious. The polenta proved popular too, although a novelty for many; I was often asked “what’s that?”
It was so lovely seeing (and tasting!) all the beautiful dishes today. Now all that’s left to say is…I’m full!