Anglo-Saxons are rather famous for the concept of eating meat and two vegetables (usually a starch, typically potato, and a vegetable). Meanwhile Italians continue to eat a more traditional parade of courses (see guide here) which range from 2 or more courses of starters, a first course typically rich in carbohydrates which could be pasta, polenta, risotto or soup, then a meat and/or fish accompanied by side dishes, then fruit, dessert and/or cheese. Pipi e patate is a Calabrian dish dish which combines what would be two Anglo-Saxon sides into one dish as it is comprised of potatoes and sweet peppers.
The simplicity of the dish is deceptive as the resulting flavours are complex and anything but simple. The key here is to use flavoursome peppers. Another name for this dish is patate ‘mpacchiuse cu i pipi. Patate ‘mpacchiuse means potatoes which stick together referring to the way the potatoes cook in a small amount of oil rather than if they were fried in lots of oil and stayed separate. Potatoes from Sila are known for being particularly delicious. Pipi means “peppers” in Calabrian dialect and in this recipe, sweet peppers are used. Chillies, known as pipi vruscente in Calabrian dialect, can also be added. Both versions are delicious. Other options are to add sausage or porcini mushrooms.
Peperoni e patate / Pipi e patate (peppers and potatoes) – Calabria
1 kilo potatoes, peeled (optional) and cut into 1 cm thick rounds or into 2 cm thick wedges, soaked in cold water
350 grams red peppers, rinsed, the stem, seeds and white interior ribs removed and cut into 2 cm strips (can use green peppers or a mixture of colours)
1 small onion (preferably a red Tropea onion, but 2 green onions can also be used), skin and ends removed and cut into strips
2 large pinches dried oregano
60 mls extra-virgin olive oil
Pour the oil in the bottom of a large frying pan. Add the onion, peppers, potatoes and oregano. Add salt and pepper to taste. Heat the pan over medium heat and use a spatula to turn the ingredients to combine.
Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for another 10 minutes, turning the ingredients over with a spatula to ensure they are browning evenly. Adjust the seasonings and serve.
Have a happy Valentine’s day to all you romantics out there. For more history on San Valentino (another Italian), click here.