Piperade is a typical Basque dish consisting of onions, bell peppers, tomatoes and piment d’Espelette.
In the southernmost part of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Basque Country is an area of rugged landscapes with its own distinct culture and cherished traditions. The region’s cuisine is rustic and full of robust flavors, influenced by Spain to the south. Colorful regional dishes include poulet basquaise and piperade, both generously seasoned with piment d’Espelette, one of my favorite condiments. In fact, every trip down south sees me stocking up on a generous supply. It adds such a wonderful depth of flavor to so many dishes, especially those with tomatoes.
If you happen to be in the village of Espelette in the late summer, you will surely notice the bunches of the bright red peppers as they decoratively hang to dry from the facades of houses before being ground into this delicately spicy condiment.
REFLECTION OF THE FLAG
Piperade is a country dish that features tomatoes, onions and green peppers: colors that reflect the Basque flag. There are so many ways to make it… and there is enough to argue about when it comes to what we can call the ‘authentic’ version. The following recipe is based on the way I saw a lovely granny make it in her modest, little kitchen in Espelette. The only difference is that she added Bayonne ham (a regional speciality), and that her vegetables were certainly much better than mine.
I like to serve this dish as a brunch or light lunch, with plenty of bread and a fragrant, chilled Bergerac rosé.
NOTE: I served the piperade in what may very well be one of the most beautiful dishes I own! The handmade detailing on the handles of the Revol round eared egg dish adds a nostalgic French touch. Eating from these dishes (which are also perfect for crème brûlées and gratins) makes me feel as though I’m eating at a quaint bouchon in Lyon!
Also shown are the Picardie marine blue tumblers. The iconic glasses are durable and also great for serving wine and even hot drinks. I love to use them for my lattes, too!
- 3 medium tomatoes
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 green bell pepper, halved, deseeded and thinly sliced
- 1 tsp piment d’Espelette
- Fine sea salt & freshly cracked pepper
- 2 large eggs
Using a sharp knife. make a small cross on the bottom of the tomatoes and submerge in boiling water for 2 minutes or until their skins begin to come loose. Rinse with cold water, remove the skins and cores and chop. Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan and gently sweat the onion for 10 minutes until soft. Add in the garlic and peppers and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and season with piment d’Espelette and salt. Cook over a medium heat for about 9 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 190°C. Transfer the mixture to two 18cm ovenproof dishes. Make a small well in the center, crack in the egg and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 8 minutes. The eggs should still be quite runny. Remove from the oven and stir the egg through the vegetables before eating.