GLUTEN-FREE | DAIRY-FREE
This classic southwestern French dish is a celebration of late summer spoils like peppers, tomatoes, onions, and herbs. (Kind of like ratatouille without the eggplant and zucchini.) Pipérade is often served with scrambled eggs. I also use it to dress up grilled fish, chicken, or vegetables.
Traditionally pipérade is made with a special kind of ham, but I substituted pasture-raised bacon. You can also use cured pork, like prosciutto, pancetta or lardon, or omit it completely. Vegetarian versions of pipérade are also very good.
To compliment the peppers and tomatoes, not compete with them, I kept the seasoning simple with a single herb. If you don't have thyme, try finely chopped rosemary, oregano, basil, or tarragon. Add hardier leaves like rosemary and oregano with the garlic, and more tender leaves like basil and tarragon at the very end.
The traditional spice for this recipe is piment d'Esplette, a mildly spicy chili pepper that comes from the Basque region of France. Instead I used a fresh Thai bird chili pepper and turmeric. Turmeric isn't traditional but because it's such a potent antioxidant with strong anti-cancer actions in the body, I sneak it in wherever I can.
2 tbsp grass-fed/organic butter
2 strips pasture-raised bacon, finely chopped (optional)
4 cups mixed bell peppers, chopped into a ½-inch dice (about 2 large)
1 red Thai bird chili pepper, minced
2 cups chopped tomatoes, chopped into a ½-inch dice (about 3 plum)
1 cup finely chopped red onion (about 1 small)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon fresh, grated turmeric or ¼ teaspoon dried, ground turmeric
Warm a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and bacon and cook until the bacon begins to crisp. Add the peppers and onions and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to brown.
Add the tomatoes along with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down into a sauce. Once the vegetables develop a silky texture and become melt-in-your-mouth soft, turn off the heat.
Stir in the garlic, thyme, and turmeric. Taste the mixture and adjust any seasoning. Set it aside for at least 10 minutes before serving. If you're making it ahead, store it inside an air-tight container in the fridge once it cools to room temperature.