Rosemary Infused Peperonata

The current pepper and tomato supply at the Santa Monica Farmers Market is the produce equivalent of a planetary conjunction. It's the best time of the food year when Three Tomato Panzanella and Rosemary Infused Peperonata are in regular rotation.

I published a peperonata recipe a while back but wanted to tweak the ratios and incorporate a couple of techniques that I've picked up since that first posting. The stewy marriage of late season tomatoes, red peppers so vibrant they seem fake, melting garlic, and hints of rosemary is magic. The intense flavor is everything that's excellent about simple cooking with peak ingredients.

Peperonata works on pizza, bruschetta, pasta (instructions included in this post), just about any protein, and sausage sandwiches. The dish also freezes beautifully. Desperately seeking more freezer space.

Whichever Way You Slice It

The tomatoes in my original peperonata recipe were cored, diced, and the skin was left on. I recently made an adapted version of Marcella Hazan's Pasta alla Norma which called for peeling the tomatoes and thinly slicing them vertically. Though an entirely different dish, it occurred to me that Marcella's approach would be an excellent upgrade for the peperonata from a textural and visual standpoint.

The tomatoes I used this season were quite dense so I was able to peel the skin off the ripe fruit without blanching. In the event that your tomatoes won't allow this, additional steps are included below under "Instructions".

Recipe Tips

Choose Your Own Adventure

If the peperonata is destined for pasta, then you should cook it with the cover on during the 25-minute simmering step. If you want to use it for bruschetta, then the cover should be off for much of that time to help the juices reduce and thicken. How long you leave the lid off depends entirely on how juicy your tomatoes are so keep an eye on things.

Acid Trip

The vinegar is added at the very end making it easy to tweak. I recommend tasting and adjusting to ensure that you add just enough but not too much. Some tomatoes are more acidic than others so it's possible to give the dish too much bite. Conversely, really sweet tomatoes appreciate that extra bit of acid to balance things out.

Pasta Pro

When using peperonata with pasta, you want to finish cooking the noodles in the "sauce". As you can see in the picture and as I've already mentioned above, I leave the mixture pretty loose for this application. The almost finished pasta will soak all that goodness right up. Bonus that this cooking technique ensures the dish will make it to the table piping hot.

Tomato Type

The ideal tomato for peperonata is a peak season sauce tomato that's sweet, has decent acidity, and a dense texture. Some sauce tomatoes can be quite dry when not properly ripened so watch out for that.


I have served this dish the same day it was made but recommend a night in the refrigerator if scheduling allows. The extra time gives the flavors time to meld.

Farmers | Artisans

I make an effort to source my food from California artisans with a special focus on the Santa Monica Farmers Market. Below is a list of the folks who contributed to this dish.




  • 2 3/4 pounds sweet red peppers (yields 1 1/2 pounds after roasting and deseeding)
  • 1 3/4-2 pounds "pomodoro" tomatoes (yields 1 1/2 pounds after prep)
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced (yields 8 ounces or 2 heaping cups)
  • 7 small/medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced (yields 22 grams after prep)
  • 5-inch sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes Note: This adds a mild undertone of heat. I sometimes bump this amount up a bit.
  • 2-3 teaspoons red wine or pomegranate vinegar
  • Flake-style salt and freshly ground pepper

(Optional) Pasta for 2-3

  • 9-9 1/2 ounces of dried spaghetti Note: I use Rustichella d'Abruzzo.
  • 1 1/2 cups prepared peperonata
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, for serving
  • Italian sausage


Peeling, Roasting, and Slicing

  • Line a baking sheet with foil.
  • Turn the broiler on high and adjust your oven rack to the highest position where you can still fit a pan. Cut the peppers lengthwise and then place them cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Char the peppers thoroughly, rotating the pan if necessary, then bundle the charred peppers up in the foil and seal everything in a Ziploc bag. After the peppers sweat for about 15 minutes, remove the skins, stems, and seeds (the skins should come right off).
  • Slice the peeled peppers vertically into 1/4-inch pieces.
  • To peel the tomatoes without blanching (this doesn't work for all tomatoes), cut a small bit off the top, gently grab hold of the edge of the skin between the paring knife and your finger, then peel. This approach is not a science so if it frustrates you skip to the next step.
  • To blanch and peel the tomatoes:
    • Set up a large bowl with ice water.
    • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
    • With a paring knife, cut a small “x” on the bottom of each tomato.
    • Add tomatoes to the boiling water (working in manageable batches) and cook for 25 seconds.
    • Immediately transfer the tomatoes to the ice bath.
    • When cool enough to handle, start at the “x” and peel back the skin of the tomato with the paring knife. Discard skin.
  • Cut the peeled tomatoes in half going from stem to base.
  • Gently remove any seeds and cut away any hard bit of core.
  • Place the tomato halves cut-side down and then slice into 1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces.


  • Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or similar non-reactive pot.
  • Add the onions, add a couple pinches of flake-style salt and freshly ground pepper, then sauté with the cover on until translucent and just starting to brown around the edges (about 8-10 minutes). Stir occasionally.
  • Add the garlic and stir until fragrant (30 seconds or so).
  • Add the tomatoes, add a couple pinches of flake-style salt and freshly ground pepper, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes until the tomatoes start to break down. Stir once or twice. The tomatoes will release quite a bit of juice during this step.
  • Add the peppers, crushed pepper flakes, rosemary sprig, and stir to combine. Make sure to nudge the rosemary underneath the tomatoes and peppers.
  • Lower the heat to medium-low, then cover and gently simmer for 25 minutes. Stir occasionally. Note: See "Choose Your Own Adventure" above to determine how much you should cover the pot.
  • Remove the lid, increase the heat to medium, and simmer until the juices reduce slightly.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and add 2 teaspoons of pomegranate or red wine vinegar (the former having less bite). Adjust to taste.
  • Discard the rosemary and then adjust the salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  • This is the point at which I recommend refrigerating the peperonata in an airtight container so that the flavors can meld overnight.

(Optional) Serving

  • Salt the pasta water with flake-style salt so that it "tastes like the ocean".
  • While the pasta is heating, brown the sausage and then slice into relatively thin coins or on a bias. Chef's discretion.
  • Cook the spaghetti just shy of al dente.
  • While the pasta is cooking, bring the peperonata to a simmer in a large non-stick pan. Adjust the salt and freshly ground pepper if needed.
  • Transfer the pasta directly from the cooking water to the pan with the peperonata. It's ok if a little pasta water comes along for the ride.
  • Add the sausage and then toss the mixture continuously over medium-high heat until the pasta has finished cooking and absorbed most of the "sauce". The remaining liquid will thicken slightly. If your peperonata is dry and the pasta still needs to cook a bit, add a tablespoon of pasta water at a time as needed.
  • Top with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.


Peperonata can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days and it freezes beautifully. If you've already mixed it with pasta, I recommend 1 to 2 days max since the quality of cooked pasta degrades pretty quickly.

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