Pipérade Recipe

The pièce de résistance for my 2010 Christmas Eve menu was Beef Wellington, and I was serving mushroom soup as the first course, so I wanted an appetizer that would go with the menu but would not include pastry or mushrooms. That’s harder to do than you’d think – so I decided to look through my cookbooks and see what I could find. I hit on the idea of making a pipérade while paging through Gerard Hirigoyen’s The Basque Kitchen. I’d eaten a pipérade before at Hirigoyen’s namesake restaurant and I had quite enjoyed it.
I followed Hirigoyen’s recipe, with a few modifications. His recipe called for Anaheim chilies, and all the ones I could find at two supermarkets were green – but the pipérade I had @ Pipérade featured red chilies, and the chilies shown on the picture next to the recipe for the pipérade in Hirigoyen’s book were also red, so I decided to use red bell peppers instead. I later found out by reading The Cooks Thesaurus that Anaheim chilies are, indeed, green. They turn red when they mature and are then called chile colorado or California red chile. I’m not sure if Hirigoyen meant that those chilies should be used on this recipe. No matter, it worked well enough with bell peppers.
The original recipe called for 6 eggs. I had meant to add them, but by the fourth egg it as clear that the concoction was waaaay too eggy. Indeed, if I was to make this again I’d only add 1 egg, 2 tops (and the recipe below has been modified to show this). Finally, I added some chopped prosciutto to the final product. Pipérade is traditionally served with a slice of Bayonne ham, but I wasn’t concerned enough about authenticity to go searching for that. The prosciutto I got at the deli counter @ Lucky wasn’t very good, though, so I recommend you stay away from it.
Anyway, without further ado, here is the recipe:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 red bell peppers, seeded & finely julienned
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded & finely julienned
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. piment d’Espelette (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 or 2 eggs
  • 3 oz Bayonne ham or prosciutto, coarsely chopped.
    Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add peppers, onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sugar, piment d’Espelette and bay leaf. Stir and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
    Remove and discard the bay leaf. Add the egg(s) to the peppers and mix with a wooden spoon. Cook for 5 minutes, add the chopped ham and serve.
    2010 Christmas Eve menu
    Marga’s Best Recipes

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