I have an affinity for tomatoes. I’m sure you’ve picked up on that by now. A recipe hailing from the beautiful French Basque country, this tomato-based dish holds a special place in my heart…
A great deal of our time in France was spent around the dinner table of their home in Bayonne and many of my inspirations are derived from our meals prepared by his wonderful mother. Served alongside sardines a la plancha, pipérade is the perfect accompaniment for this authentic rustic meal. A dish that is characterized by tomatoes (of course), peppers, onions and a specialty spice called piment d’espelette, the tartness of pipérade provides a perfect balance to the slightly charred taste of grilled sardines. It was such a memorable meal and I couldn’t wait for another opportunity to devour it once again.
So you can imagine my excitement when his mom packed up the leftovers to bring with us on our trip to their cabin in the Pyrénées. All day long, while we were hiking, I couldn’t stop thinking about the pipérade waiting for us. That evening, we grilled a few links of saucisson over an open flame in their tremendously huge fireplace (large enough to fit me on a skewer and make a rotisserie!). And following strict instructions from his mom, we poached two eggs in our pipérade for another delicious rendezvous. Sitting in front of the hearth with my favorite Basque meal, a bottle of Margaux and the love of my life – I couldn’t have imagined anything better.
|3||lbs. tomatoes, blanched and skinned|
|3-4||cubanelle peppers, diced|
|1||large yellow onion, diced|
|3||garlic cloves, minced|
|1/4||lb. serrano ham , cut in small pieces|
|1||tsp piment d’espelette or paprika|
|salt & pepper to taste|
- Using a strainer, squeeze out excess water from the tomatoes. In a medium pot, heat olive oil and saute onions until translucent. Next, add the peppers and garlic. Cover and stir occasionally. Once the peppers are soft, add the ham and saute for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a container. Keep warm.
- In the same skillet, add a little more olive oil and saute the tomatoes over medium heat. Add piment d’espelette and sugar. Reduce tomato mixture until it becomes a thicker consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Add the peppers and ham to the pot and simmer over low heat for another 10 minutes.
NOTE: This recipe is not the authentic Basque pipérade since the Basque peppers are not available in the U.S. and sadly, customs probably would not be too keen on me smuggling some over!