UPDATE: Since writing this post, I’ve discovered Piment d’Ville, a fabulous California-made version of Piment d’Espelette, a hallmark ingredient to Pipérade. You can use Piment d’Ville wherever I call for Piment d’Espelette. Read my review of Piment d’Ville.
It’s ratatouille season, but if you’re ratatouilled-out, here’s another great thing to do with all those beautiful bell peppers popping up right now at farmers markets: Make pipérade, of course. This French Basque specialty is so easy to make–and it goes beautifully with many proteins. Here’s how to make piperade—and how to use Piperade, too.
Like Ratatouille, Pipérade defies categorization. Is it a side dish? A relish? A sauce? An appetizer? Indeed, I’ve enjoyed Pipérade in many ways in the Basque country. I’ve seen it served over a slice of ham, alongside grilled fish, and simply spooned over roasted chicken. However, this sweet, fresh sauce is especially tailor-made for eggs—I give some serving suggestions, below.
Note: If you truly can’t find Piment d’Espelette powder, a combination of smoked paprika and cayenne will do. It won’t be exactly the same, but it will be good.
However, if you’re a passionate cook, you should probably know about Piment d’Espelette, and try it at least once in your life! Here’s a post I wrote about it, including other recipes that use it. Find this fascinating fruity-spicy ground chile wherever great spices are sold. Amazon.com also sells Piment d’Espelette.
Makes 4 servings as a side-dish/relish (about 2 1/2 cups total)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into very thin strips
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into very thin strips
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced (in winter, you can one 14-ounce can diced tomatoes)
2 teaspoons piment d’espelette, or 1/4 teaspoon mild paprika plus a dash of cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bell peppers and onion and cook until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds more, or until fragrant. Add tomatoes (don’t drain them if canned) and piment d’espelette. Simmer until the piperade thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
You can serve the piperade now, in its chunky form. However, if you want a smoother piperade, cool the mixture slightly, then pulse in a food processor until desired thickness (a saucy mixture with chunks of red and green pepper is especially nice for egg dishes). Reheat if needed, then serve.
How to Serve Pipérade:
- Tuck a scant 1/2 cup warm Pipérade into a French Rolled Omelet, page 299 of The Bonne Femme Cookbook.
- Top fried or scrambled eggs with warm Pipérade.
- Use in Baked Eggs with Pipérade (page 303 of The Bonne Femme Cookbook).
- Use as a sauce for a soufflé (try my foolproof Cheese Soufflé with Pipérade, page 308 of The Bonne Femme Cookbook)
- Spoon warm Pipérade over slices of ham as a main course. Serve with Any-Night Baked Rice
- Serve aside a slice of baked ham or grilled or roasted fish.
Refrigerate leftovers Pipérade for up to three days. In the unlikely event that you have some left after three days, freeze it and add it to the next chili you make.
PS: Here’s a video of me making Pipérade on KCWI-23’s “Great Day” morning program. Enjoy!
You can find Piment d’Espelette at specialty spice shops or on Amazon.com. Or, try Piment d’Ville, a truly great California version.
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