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Peperonata Napoletana

Follow our Peperonata Napoletana recipe to create a vegetarian starter, side dish or even a light lunch. The dish is one of the most versatile Italian contorni (i.e. starters) that you can make at home. It’s also one of the most delicious.

Peperonata in a bowl with a red gingham napkin
Image: ©2foodtrippers

Our love for food in Italy doesn’t just involve eating pizza and pasta in cities like Rome and Naples. We’ve also fallen in love with the Italian approach to vegetables. And, while we rarely say no to a fresh Caprese salad, we’re especially besotted with Italian vegetable appetizers and sides (i.e. contorni) served at restaurants, markets and especially lunch counters.

While contorni dishes run the gamut from artichokes to zucchini throughout Italy, Peperonata is one of the most popular contorni options in Naples. It’s also the one that excited us most during our most recent trip to Southern Italy.

Contorni at Cibi Cotti in Naples
Peperonata was a highlight of this contorni plate we ate during our casual lunch at Cibi Cotti in Naples. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

In retrospect, we likely ate the dish countless times at holiday parties without really knowing what Peperonata was or the age-old traditions behind this stew of sweet peppers and tomatoes. But, now that we’ve eaten it at countless Italian restaurants and lunch counters, we’ve officially become Peperonata fans.

Mastering the rustic dish in our home kitchen was a must once we returned from our most recent Italy eating adventures.

What Is Peperonata?

Spooning out peperonata in a white bowl
A blend of cooked peppers and tomatoes, Peperonata is a great first course that can be served on bread or on its own. It’s also a great pasta topper. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Peperonata is essentially Italian stewed peppers with a touch of tomato. It’s also a versaitle dish. You can serve Peperonata on its own or with a side of bread. You can make Pasta con Peperonata. You can serve Peperonata on toasted bread as a Peperonata Bruscheta or Peperonata Crostini. Sometimes, as Daryl is wont to do, you can ‘secretly’ munch on cold Peperonata with crackers (or on a spoon) at 3am.

Peperonata on Focaccia
Topping focaccia with Peperonata is one of many versatile ways to serve Peperonata Napoletana. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

The dish is a vegetarian staple in the Campania region which is notable for its wonderful soil and warm weather. A wonderful assortment of fresh fruit and vegetables grow on that soil in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius and its surrounding hills. Dishes like Peperonata are a reflection of this agricultural bounty.

According to Marlena Spieler, “…at its heart, la cucina Campana is a garden of infinite variety and exquisite quality.” Spieler didn’t just wax poetically about Peperonata. The late author published an excellent Peperonata recipe in A Taste of Naples: Neapolitan Culture, Cuisine, and Cooking that we’ve gently adapted to work for us.

Peperonata Napoletana Ingredients

Peperonata Mise en Place
Our Peperonata Napoletana recipe’s ingredient list includes canned diced tomatoes, capers, garlic, onions, fresh oregano, red & yellow peppers and salt. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

The mix and quantity of peppers that Spieler calls for are great with just enough tomato umami and acidity to counter the sweetness and fattiness of the peppers. (Yes. Unbelievably, peppers naturally contain a surprising yet healthy amount of oil.) Adding capers gives the Peperonata a vegetal, almost ocean-like salinity while the fresh oregano provides a wonderful aroma.

Here’s what you need to make great Peperonata Napoletana at home.

  • Canned Diced Tomatoes
  • Capers
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Fresh Oregano (Dried oregano to substitute)
  • Red and Yellow Peppers
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt

Red and Yellow Peppers

Red and Yellow Peppers in a roasting pan
Red and yellow peppers provide Peperonata Napoletana’s sweet note. You can also use orange peppers if you’re so inclined. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Red and yellow peppers provide beautiful color and, of course, flavor. You can also use orange peppers (which, of course, are in between yellow and red). Stay away from green peppers unless you’re seeking a slightly bitter, more vegetal flavor in your dish.


Sliced Onions in a small silver prep bowl
We recommend 1/4 inch onion slices for this Peperonata Napoletana recipe. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

You can use yellow or white onions. However, if given the choice, we say go for sweet white onions. Regardless of your choice, you’ll want to slice the onions pole to pole, about 1/4 inch thick.


Garlic Slices in a Red Bowl
Not surprisingly this Peperonata Napoletana recipe calls for sliced garlic. After all, it’s a Southern Italian dish. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Slice the garlic as thin as you can. The thinly sliced garlic will soften as it cooks.

Canned Diced Tomatoes

Canned Diced Tomatoes in a White Bowl
We use canned diced tomatoes when we prepare Peperonata Napoletana at home. You can dice fresh tomatoes if you prefer. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

While you can hypothetically use fresh tomatoes in this recipe, canned, diced tomatoes are just as good and provide the best, most convenient results. This is especially the case during the winter months when tomatoes are out of season.


Capers in an orange bowl
You can use either salted or brined capers for this Peperonata Napoletana recipe. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Capers provide a vegetal brininess to Peperonata Napoletana that tastes like the Mediterranean regardless of where you live.


Salt in a red bowl
Salt is a staple in many recipes including this one. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

We add salt in small increments while cooking the onions and peppers. We add additional salt prior to serving on an as-needed basis. You’ll want to do the same.

Fresh Oregano

Garnishing peperonata with a sprig of oregano
Fresh oregano provides a unique scent and flavor to the Peperonata Napoletana dish. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Don’t use dried oregano unless fresh oregano is impossible to find. Fresh oregano gives the finished Peperonata Napoletana a gorgeous scent and provides the last bit of Mediterranean punch. Plus, fresh oregano doubles as a colorful garnish.

How To Make Peperonata Napoletana

A spoon in peperonata
Making Peperonata Napoletana is both easy and fun. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Speiler’s recipe is great with one exception. Using her blanching and boiling method to skin the peppers doesn’t work. We understand her intention but, after blanching the peppers for over two minutes, the skin refused to come off.

So came up with a different technique. We heat the peppers inside our oven instead.

Boiling peppers to skin them
We attempted to skin our peppers by boiling them but, unfortunately, the skins refused to come off easily. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Start by placing the peppers on a sheet tray and then place them in an oven preheated to 350°f/180°c. We recommend baking the peppers for 30 – 40 minutes.

Pro Tip
It’s important not to roast the peppers in too high of heat. You don’t want to char them over a flame since that would leave the dish with too smokey of a flavor. (This is why we don’t recommend charring the skins off on a direct flame.) You only want to roast the peppers enough to heat them and blister their skins.

Immediately place the hot peppers in a large bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. The skins will begin to blister off.

Peel off the skins once the peppers are cool enough to handle. (The skins may stick too much if they peppers are too cool.) It’s not necessary to peel off 100% of the skins from the peppers. You just need to remove most of skin. You also need to discard the peppers’ stems and seeds.

Start sautéing the garlic once the peppers are peeled.

You want to sauté the garlic until the garlic is fragrant. Add the onion slices and sauté until they’re soft. Add a small amount of salt during this step. The salt allows the onions to soften and provides initial seasoning to the dish.

Add the skinned, stemmed and seeded peppers plus another small pinch of salt. Stir the peppers, garlic and onions for two minutes so that they’re well mixed. Add the tomatoes and stir some more.

Cover the pan and cook for 20 minutes on a medium flame, stirring frequently.

Once the peppers are cooked, add the capers and oregano to the pan. Cook for 10 more minutes.

At this point, the Peperonata Napoletana should now be cooked.

Remove the lid and stir until the mixture is slightly thick. You should see the bottom of the pan when you drag the mixture with a wooden spoon.

Cooking and stirring peperonata in a frying pan
It’s time to serve the Peperonata Napoletana. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Remove the Pepernata and serve it in a large bowl.

Peperonata with a tomato salad utensils and some bread
This lunch featuring Peperonata Napoletana took us to Italy with no flight required. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

There are so many ways to eat Peperonata Napoletana. One of our favorites is to pair the dish with salad and bread to create a colorful, meat-free lunch.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Peperonata Napoletana?

Peperonata Napoletana is a stewed blend of skinned peppers and tomatoes Italians typically serve as an aperitivo as a vegetable contorni. It’s sometimes served with pasta during dinner as well.

Where was Peperonata invented?

We can trace Peperonate to the nineteenth century when nightshades like peppers and tomatoes became popular in Italy.

What are the ingredients in Peperonata?

Red and Yellow Peppers, Canned Tomatoes, Onions, Capers, Fresh Oregano and Garlic.

It it possible to store Peperonata in the refrigerator?

You can store Peperonata in a sealed container for about a week in the refrigerator if you plan to serve it later or if you have leftovers.

Did you make this recipe? If so, please rate it below.

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Peperonata Napoletana

Peperonata Napoletana is one of the great vegetable dishes of Naples. Made with stewed peppers and tomato, this contorni dish can be served as a starter or light lunch. It's also great to serve with pasta.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 8
Calories: 105kcal


  • 3 red bell peppers
  • 3 yellow bell peppers
  • 15 ounces canned, diced tomatoes with their juice
  • 3 medium cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
  • 1 medium onion (sliced 1/4" thick)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 2 tbsp capers (salted or brined – whichever you prefer)
  • 2 tbsp oregano (fresh, roughly chopped)
  • 2 sprigs oregano (fresh, leaves stripped for garnish)
  • salt (to taste)


  • Preheat an oven to 400°f/200°c.
  • Place the peppers on a parchment lined sheet tray and then place the pan into the preheated oven. Roast the peppers for 30-35 minutes until the skin of the peppers starts to blister.
  • Remove the peppers from the oven and place them in a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Once the peppers are cool enough to touch, remove their skins. Some of the skin may stick to the peppers which is okay. You just need to remove most of the skin, not all of it.
  • Once skinned, slice the peppers into strips to your preferred size. We recommend 1/2 to 1" strips.
  • Heat oil in a 12" sauté pan. Once the oil is heated, add the garlic and cook until the garlic is lightly golden and fragrant, about one minute. Add the onions and a small pinch of salt and sauté until soft.
  • Add the peppers to the pan and stir them, along with another small pinch of salt, with the onions for two minutes so that the peppers and onions are well mixed. Add the diced tomatoes and stir to incorporate. Cover the pan and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Uncover the pan and add the capers and oregano. Stir, cover and cook another 10 minutes. Uncover the pan and stir until the mixture slightly thickens. It shouldn't be too watery and you should easily see the bottom of the pan when you run a wooden spoon across the pan.
  • Finish the dish with salt as needed and garnish with fresh oregano springs.

Pro Tips

  • Once cool, You can refrigerate the Peperonata for up to a week in a sealed plastic container.
  • You can use orange peppers in this recipe but stay away from green peppers.
  • You can use dry oregano if you can’t find fresh oregano.

Estimated Nutrition

Calories: 105kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 135mg | Potassium: 336mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1582IU | Vitamin C: 145mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 2mg
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About the Authors

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.


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We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

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Original Publication Date: March 13, 2024

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