green peppers in tomato

I wanted to share one of the recipes from our supper club, and decided on a dish that has featured in many lunches at my yaya's house... 

Green peppers have always been my mum's thing, and I never got it as a child. They were too bitter and I always favoured a red pepper or even better, a giant, juicy tomato from my grandparents' allotment or the travelling produce-seller booming out a combination of vegetable prices and political messages out of a megaphone from his beat up truck.

But honestly, over time I realised that green peppers were actually one of the best things ever and provide a perfect combination of flavours: sweet, alkaline and the aforementioned bitter flavour I now love. Greek cuisine is all about balance and using fresh, healthy ingredients. A dish that combines something slightly bitter, like peppers, with the sweetness of tomato is a classic example of this.

Although deceptively simple, it really does demonstrate some complex flavour combinations. And when you pair it with creamy, salty feta and some sour bread to soak up the juices...oh my.

When I last visited my yaya I made this for her with her best friend Litza and my mother. Trying to decipher the recipe from these three headstrong women was...interesting...but this is what I could get after many disagreements and conflicting advice.

On that note, getting a straight recipe from someone in my family is a mystery. It's all "add some oil, as much as you think is right" or "use your eye to add the salt". All I can say is that cooking greek food takes practice as it relies on intuition, and really great ingredients. But don't give up as it's not a precise art and feel free to experiment!

ingredients (enough for 2 people)

6 x turkish green peppers
3 x beef tomatoes
1 large onion
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Sunflower oil for frying
Olive oil for frying
Feta and bread for serving. Or a salad.

method

Get a deep frying pan and pour in some sunflower oil until it's at least 1cm deep.

Add the peppers, whole, into the oil. Make sure not to crowd them - you may need to do this in batches depending on your pan size.

My mum and Litza fryin' up that pepper.

My mum and Litza fryin' up that pepper.

Fry the peppers, then set them aside to cool on kitchen paper.

When the peppers have cooled, gently peel the skin off, trying to keep the pepper intact. This is a delicate job! It requires patience, and I usually delegate this to someone else (see below).

Seriously, peeling these takes a while. Find a friend with nimble fingers.

Seriously, peeling these takes a while. Find a friend with nimble fingers.

Peel the tomatoes, with a peeler. I know this sounds strange but it's a very common way of de-skinning a tomato in Greece.

Floral apron obligatory.

Floral apron obligatory.

Grate the onion. Again, this is very common in Greece and really brings out a different flavour from the onion. It might be something to do with the change in texture? I don't know, let me know if you do! It certainly makes your eyes hurt. 

Heat a separate pan with some olive oil and gently fry the onion until it's soft and it no longer smells raw.

Grate the tomato. Add this to the pan with the onion. 

Season very well with salt and pepper.

Cook the onion and tomato for around 10 minutes or so. The tomato should feel quite thin, not too pulpy.

Add the peppers to the pan with the tomato and onion and heat through.

Serve the peppers on a dish with some of the tomato sauce, with a hunk of bread and some feta. 

This dish works very well for lunch or as a side dish.