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Delicious Word Work - Piperade

If you haven’t already guessed, two things I love in this life are cooking and language. And there are some words that just absolutely charm me: terpsichore, onomatopoeia, ennui, serendipity, and now, piperade.

I heard chef Adam Harvey on television talking about his piperade, and almost didn’t care about what it was. It was a beautiful word. Piperade or Piperrada, from piper, is a typical Basque dish prepared with onion, green peppers, and tomatoes sautéed and flavored with red Espelette pepper. The colors coincidentally reflect the colors of the Basque flag. I couldn’t find the Espelette around here, but of course, Amazon will have it.


3 plum tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped, about 2 cups

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

2 medium green bell peppers, stem, seeds and ribs removed, roughly chopped

½ teaspoon salt

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon Piment d’Espelette (or substitute hot paprika)


Cut a small X into bottom of each tomato.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add tomatoes and cook until skin begins to wrinkle and peel at the edges of the cuts, about 30 seconds.

Drain, rinse with cool water and peel off skin with your fingers.

Roughly chop tomatoes and set aside.

In a 12-inch skillet over medium high heat, heat oil until hot but not smoking.

Add onions, peppers and salt and sauté, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent and peppers have started to lighten in spots, about 10 minutes.

Add garlic and continue to sauté for 1 more minute.

Stir in tomatoes, sugar and piment d’Espelette, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until tomatoes are starting to fall apart and peppers are soft but still hold their shape, about 15 minutes.

Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens like a slightly runny relish, about 5 minutes more. Adjust salt.

This, a friend, some good bread, and a beautiful wine like a Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuisse make for a perfect night.

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