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Peppers are natives of the New World that the Spaniards brought home with them from their voyages of discovery. We're fortunate that they did; while the tomato is perhaps the vegetable (fruit, actually) that people most associate with Italian cooking, it would be dull and dreary without peppers, the hot variety to liven things up (they're used extensively in the South, especially Puglia and Calabria), and the sweeter bell variety almost everywhere.

In selecting bell peppers, you should pick ones that are firm and feel solid. Don't buy peppers that feel soft, look wrinkled, or have obvious spots and such on them -- they're probably old. In terms of color, bell peppers are all green when young, becoming red, yellow, purple, or other colors as they ripen.

Bull's horn peppers, from PiemonteTo prepare a bell pepper, cut around the stem, which you may want to keep to use as a cap, shake out the seeds and discard them, and peel away the white part of the ribs using a paring knife (insert it into the hole if you're keeping the peppers whole, or after you have cut them into strips if you're cutting them into strips). Even though bell peppers are nominally sweet, their ribs can pack a fiery wallop, so be careful to wash you hands well with soap before you touch anything else (e.g. your eyes) once you are done cutting them. If the recipe you are following suggests you peel your peppers, put them under a broiler, turning them often, until they blister, then scrape away the skins (if you've already cut them into strips broil them skin side up).

Incidentally, the Italian for bell pepper is peperone, which becomes peperoni in the plural. Hot peppers are called peperoncini (little peppers) in standard Italian, though they take on a host of names in various dialects (e.g. zenzero, which actually means ginger, in Tuscany). The spicy sausage that Americans know as pepperoni is called salamino piccante, and is quite common, especially in the South.

A Selection of the Recipes with Peppers On Site:

Antipasti (Some of Which Will Be Nice Sides Too)

  • Peperoni Sotto Aceto
    Pickled bell peppers ate tasty as an antipasto or with bland foods.
  • Peperoni Impanati e Fritti
    Peppers, sliced, breaded, and fried: nibble food!
  • Peperoni alla Griglia
    Grilled Bell Peppers are one of the tastiest summer antipasti or side dishes known, and easy to make too!
  • Peperoni con la Bagna Caoda
    The symbol of Piemontese conviviality, and a wonderful antipasto too.
  • Involtini di Peperone
    A wonderfully tasty use for bell peppers & cheese.
  • Peperoni Crudi Farciti
    Bell peppers stuffed with tuna and mozzarella are refreshing and elegant.
  • Salsa di Peperoni
    A zesty bell pepper sauce for meats, vegetables, and fish.
  • Bavarese ai Peperoni
    Beautiful aromas and rich hearty flavors from this bell pepper Bavarian Cream.

Primi: First Courses

  • Pasta con Crema di Peperoni
    A refreshing summer pasta sauce made with bell peppers and garlic.
  • Farfalle Con Peperoni e Rucola
    Butterflies with a zesty summer sauce of peppers and arugola. If you add tomato, mozzarella, and chill, you've got picnic food!
  • Fusilli con Peperoni e Melanzane
    Fusilli with eggplant in a bell pepper sauce.
  • Penne Rigate con Peperoni e Melanzane
    A tasty summer sauce with peppers and eggplant.
  • Timpano di Peperoni
    A zesty baked pasta dish with a bell pepper shell that will be wonderful in summer.
  • Risotto coi Peperoni
    A rich, tomatoey peppery risotto, perfect in summer!
  • Risotto Con Peperoni e Gorgonzola
    An inspired combination of flavors.

Secondi: Main Courses

  • Costolette Guarnite
    Veal cutlets in a zesty tomato and bell pepper sauce.
  • Costolette di Vitello coi Peperoni
    Zesty cutlets sauteed, then cooked with peppers.
  • Nodini di Vitello ai Peperoni
    A tasty recipe for veal chops with a bell pepper sauce.
  • Baccalà coi Peperoni
    Fried baccalà with a bell pepper sauce.

Contorni: Sides

  • Peperonata Rustica
    Tasty, simple stewed peppers.
  • Peperoni in Padella
    A lusty Neapolitan recipe.
  • Peperoni alla Goria
    A widely quoted recipe for marinated grilled peppers by Giovanni Goria.

Peperoni Imbottiti: Stuffed Bell Peppers

  • Peperoni Col Ripieno di Salsiccia
    Peppers stuffed with sausage meat, a delightful flavor combination and perfect in spring or fall.
  • Peperoni Con Capperi e Olive
    A bread stuffing with capers and olives for summer.
  • Peperoni Imbottiti di Maccheroni
    Bell peppers stuffed with pasta, another refreshing Neapolitan summer dish.
  • Pipi Chjini (j is pronounced like the English ee)
    Stuffed peppers, Calabrian style.
  • Peperoni Imbottiti
    Bell peppers stuffed with eggplant and bread crumbs, a tasty Neapolitan specialty perfect for summer.
  • Peperoni Ripieni al Grana
    A meatless stuffed pepper with a tasty cheese-based filling.
  • Peperoni Ripieni di Riso e Baccalà
    The combination of bell peppers and fish is quite successful, and these will be perfect when it's hot.
  • Peperoni Ripieni Con Formaggio e Olive
    Peppers, stuffed with olives and cheese (and more), and baked.
  • Peperoni Ripieni di Peperoni e Pecorino
    Peppers filled with sauteed peppers and grated cheese. Simple and tasty.
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