January 26, 2010

Some Like it Hot

If you can’t take the heat…then you’re probably in the wrong kitchen.

In a family where tempers run high, feelings are often hurt and grudges can span several lifetimes, perhaps it is not surprising that we like our food hot and spicy. Nonna’s kitchen, while joyful and delicious can also be dramatic and at times downright treacherous. With a family as large as ours, it takes a sustained effort to keep track of who’s not speaking to whom, whose turn it is to boycott a family event and which heathen has most recently been condemned to Hell. In all fairness, I’ve been condemned at least three times that I know of, so I feel strongly that I’ve paid my dues. I find it particularly useful to keep track of the heathens so I know who to sit next to during dinner. And this is only at Christmas! Wait until you hear about 4th of July at Nonna’s Cottage. It answers the time honored question, how many Italians can you fit under a roof before you see blood.

Recognizing that each one of us is of different temperament and personality, Nonna’s table covers the spectrum of flavorful food. Ever the peacemaker, Nonna makes sure that there is an option for the spicy, mild and even nut free palette. She has yet to accommodate the vegetarian, although I suspect that is only because none of us are foolish enough to abstain from meat in her presence.

On the surface, it would seem that Nonna cooks the following pepper recipe to accommodate all of our tastes. Upon reflection, I suppose she might also cook these peppers so that our mouths burn and we are rendered temporarily voiceless and thus can better enjoy each other’s company.

You see, Nonna knows that when all’s said and done we’d all prefer to take the heat and stay in the kitchen than be left out of it.

Peppers in Sauce
6 spicy banana peppers
6 non-spicy banana or cubanelle
2 or 3 good sized garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 can plum tomatoes in puree
Regular olive oil

This is one of those recipes that just tastes better when cooked by Nonna. My peppers never come out as soft or as pungent. I have no explanation for this, other than I stand by my original assertion- Nonna can do magic.

Chop the peppers, keeping the seeds for added spice, or removing them for a milder flavor.

Sautee with garlic for a good 20 minutes or so, until soft and slightly browned.

Crush the tomatoes by hand and then add with juices to the peppers. Cook for about 30 minutes.

The beauty of this dish is that is can be used in all sorts of ways. Our family likes to add a heap of these peppers to a dish of pasta and meatballs. They’re great in sandwiches or as an accompaniment to a sautéed chicken breast or pork chop and they freeze wonderfully.

1 comment:

  1. Hysterical picture of a passionate family! And I can't wait to try the recipe.