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Make use of olive oil�s virtues for zesty peperonata

By Steve Petusevsky,

While visiting the Puglia region of Italy I recently attended an olive oil tasting. We were served small glasses of olive oil, which we learned to slurp, covering our palates while swishing the oil around and then spitting it out. All great extra-virgin olive oil is judged by acidity and flavor.

Not unlike a wine tasting, an olive oil tasting uses a special vocabulary to describe the favorable qualities of the oils: artichoke, bitter (yes, this is a preferred characteristic), buttery, peppery, pungent, fruity, grassy, sweet and green. Poor qualities are described as musty, flat, dirty, earthy and burnt. After our tasting, we feast on dishes made with extra-virgin olive oil, of course. Here's a version of a simple recipe that I enjoyed in Puglia.


Serve this on toasted bread rounds like brushetta or over cooked pasta. I also like it spread warm on a baguette with fresh mozzarella cheese and arugula.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, halved and sliced thinly into sticks
2 pounds mixed bell peppers (yellow, red and green), halved, seeded and thinly sliced
1 hot chili pepper such as a long hot green, poblano or Hungarian hot wax pepper, cored, seeded and cut in lengthwise strips
Water, as needed
2 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt, to taste

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Heat the olive oil in a nonreactive skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook, stirring, 5 to 7 minutes until soft without browning. Add the peppers, stir into the onions, cover the pan and cook 20 minutes over low heat until the peppers are very tender. Check occasionally and stir to make sure they are not sticking to the bottom, adding a little water if needed.

Add the tomatoes, parsley and salt, cover and continue to cook 10 minutes.

Nutritional information per serving: 82 calories, 61 percent calories from fat, 6 g fat, 0.79 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 8 g carbohydrates, 1 g protein, 6 mg sodium.


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