Brilliantly versatile, punchy and sweet - I love florina peppers and their intense flavour. This simple meze dish is one of the most luscious things you can make from a few humble ingredients. You simply slow cook red onions - and plenty of garlic and then add the peppers until you have a meltingly rich sauce.
I've based this meze around the foundations for a classic Greek family favourite, speztofai, which is basically this rich sauce with the addition of some tomatoes or tomato paste and really spicy country style sausage, known as horiatika loukanika plus some extra hot pepperonici and sliced chili peppers. For a fantastic speztofai recipe see Magda's blog My Little Expat Kitchen. While speztofai is delicious, it is a pretty heavy comfort food and I find it is more suited to cooler weather. Warmer days here in Sydney mean lighter food - so no horiatika loukanika for us this week.
You can serve this meze alongside some olives and cheese, or you can rub half a clove of garlic over slices of rustic bread and top with spoonfuls of these melting peppers and top with a crumble of salty feta. Adding the tomato is optional, but if you do - the sauce is perfect spooned over creamy polenta - or you can add some preserved tuna in oil and toss through pasta. We had this simple dish in a taverna in Agios Nikitas in Lefkada and I still get regular cravings for it. So simple, but so delicious.
Slow cooked florina peppers
2 red onions, sliced
1 whole head of garlic, cloves sliced
4 red florina peppers
4 green florina peppers
A handful of fresh oregano leaves
A pinch of chili flakes
2 teaspoons of capers, drained
1 grated tomato or 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, softened in a little hot water (optional)
1. Cover the base of a heavy pan in olive oil and sweat the onions and garlic over a medium heat for around 15 minutes, until soft but not browned.
2. Add the peppers. At this point you could add the tomato if you wish and mix through well. Cook the peppers on a medium-low heat until soft, for around 30 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and stir through the capers. Sprinkle with chili and oregano leaves.
For pasta: if you are making the pasta - at step 3 also stir through some flaked tuna that has been preserved in olive oil. You can leave the sauce off the heat while you cook some spaghetti. Once 'al dente' add the pasta to the pan of pepper sauce and quickly toss through. Serve immediately.