Sweet Frying Peppers: Seasonal Chef


Skip to the recipe: Sweet Frying Pepper and Tomato Sauce.

We are in the height of the Farmers Market season here in the Northeast. The tables are overflowing with corn, zucchini, tomatoes and peppers. If you have a home garden the same is happening. With the abundance of leafy greens too, another salad is just not an option. Why not take some of those veggies and sauté them a bit? In particular the sweet frying peppers. Those along with a few tomatoes, onion and garlic, and you have a dish that can go from appetizer to main course in minutes.

Peppers come in a variety of shape, color and size, and taste ranges from sweet to intensely hot. This week I’m going to focus on a special variety called Sweet Frying Peppers. The shape is elongated and the colors can be red or green. The best part is they fry up in a snap because the skin is thin. The variety I have pictured above is called Jimmy Nardello, and has a great story behind it: named for an Italian from Basilicata, that brought the seeds with him when he emigrated to Connecticut in the 1800s. As luck would have it  my farmer friend Mark Santoro is growing them at Gaia’s Breath Farm.

sauce ingredients

This week’s recipe would not be easier: I simply cut up the peppers along with tomatoes, red onion and a little garlic.

Sweet Frying Peppers and Tomato Sauce

To kick it up I tossed in a little chili flake while it was cooking, but that is totally up to you. All told this will take you well under 30 minutes to put together. Click this link to see the recipe for: Sweet Frying Pepper and Tomato Sauce. The result is a beautiful chunky dish. The tomatoes and peppers will still have a lot of texture, which makes it not only beautiful to look at, but interesting on your palate. This is a perfect dish to eat just on it’s own with a piece of crusty bread, or along with a nice protein.

With that in mind I thought I would share one of my favorite meatball recipes. A really good meatball is something to swoon over. I have had a couple in my day that made me just sigh … both by two of my favorite chefs: Dave DiBari and  Mario LaPostaDave’s, inspired from his Nonna, are soft and light in texture, nestled in a rich tomato sauce, and oh so good. Mario’s are a little denser, and as you bite into the crisp exterior you find the inside soft and pack with loads of flavor. Many of you know I did a tour in the Tarry Lodge kitchen several years ago, and that is where I watched Mario create his delicious orbs. Roasting in the hot pizza oven gave them a crisp crust .

I still have his original recipe committed to memory, but have changed up a few ingredients to make it my own. Click here to see the recipe for: Maria’s Favorite Meatballs.


The key is to get a nice crisp crust on the outside of the meatball. Most of us don’t have a pizza oven registering at 900 degrees, so a hot pan coated with a thin layer of olive oil will get us to the right place. Try not to move them around a lot – or as I like to say in my cooking classes “resist the urge to touch them.” When they are ready, they will release.


Once you get a nice crust all the way around, nestle them in the sauce and simmer for a few minutes.

Every now and then it’s fun to make your own meatballs. Not the least of which is the knowledge of what is going into them. A lot of the pre-made varieties have a higher bread ratio, and lets face it, when you want to eat a meatball, you are looking for the “meat,” right?

This weekend I will be taking my show on the road to the John Jay Farm Market. One of my favorite spots, right in front of the beautiful John Jay Homestead, in Katonah. I’ll be making this quick sauce and cooking up some delicious meatballs as well, straight from Gaia’s Breath Farm. Stop by my table for a taste.

Buon Appetito!



About Author

Seasonal Chef blogger Maria Reina comes to the world of food as a third career, spending a great portion of her adult life in the field of Human Resources. With her private company Bella Cucina Maria she is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Westchester. She's an avid food television watcher and cookbook collector, always looking for a new take on a traditional dish. In her free time she loves hanging out at local farmer's markets, chatting it up with the farmers and doing cooking demos with their seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog, which is loaded with easy recipes, you can follow her on Facebook (Bella Cucina Maria), Twitter (Bellacucinam), Instagram (Bellacucinam) and Pinterest (Bellacucinam).

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