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Filtering by Tag: peperoni di senise

Peppers and more peppers


We harvested lots of peppers during the months of September and October!

I have the same three varieties in my garden that we always grew in Calabria: sweet Italian peppers, peperoni di Senise and a couple of corno di toro yellow peppers. The peperoni di Senise are ideal for drying, as they have a thin skin and dry quicker than the Italian sweet peppers. Because September  in the Bay Area is also our Indian summer, we are able to dry them outside.

Here are some pictures of my dad stringing all the peppers from our harvest:

He hangs them out in the open until they are fully red and dried. This can take up to a month or so, depending on the weather.

Each string of peppers is called a ristra:

And this is what the peperoni di Senise look like when they are completely dried:

We grind up these peppers into pepe rosso, a mild, sweet paprika-like powder, that we use in making Calabrian sausage.  The ones that we don’t grind we keep whole and use during the winter months in many braised dishes.  There is a winter snack made in my town of Verbicaro made with these dried peppers, called pipi arrusckuatiin my dialect and peperoni cruschi in Italian.  They're like potato chips, but made with peppers instead. I will tell you more about this snack when I make them during the upcoming winter months.

Although some of the sweet Italian peppers end up dried, we use most of them fresh in various dishes.  One of my favorite ways to eat sweet Italian peppers is to remove the stem and seeds, put an anchovy inside, and pan fry them whole in olive oil.  We also use them fresh in frittate, pan fried with potatoes or with eggplants and tomatoes, stuffed and baked, grilled and peeled with olive oil and garlic, tossed with pasta--you name it, we make it.

In the next post I will include a recipe that you can prepare with red and yellow bell peppers, which are more readily available in this country. The recipe will be one that didn’t make it in my cookbook.  For all the other pepper recipes that I've mentioned above you will need to wait until next fall, when my cookbook, My Calabria,  will be published.

My vegetable garden at the end of August


In the month of August I've been able to enjoy eating romano beans, cucumbers, zucchini and eggplants, all from my own garden. Even my apple trees and my two grapevines are loaded with fruit.  But because August was unusually cool here in the Bay area, some of the vegetables, like the tomatoes, didn't start ripening until the end of the month, which you can see in the photo below. They're growing on two trellis rows, and are so high that we can no longer tie them down--they are now taller than we are.

The majority of the tomatoes are the San Marzano variety. We brought the seeds from Calabria with us in the 70s when we moved to the Bay Area and my parents have always kept the seeds from year to year, so you are looking at real heirloom tomatoes! I will write a post soon on how to harvest the seeds so that you don't need to buy them every year.

There are three other tomato varieties I planted along with the San Marzano: an early girl variety, a cuore di bue, or "ox heart", and sweet 100s, which are cherry tomatoes.

The early girls:

Cuore di bue tomatoes, this one with a cute little horn:

Cherry tomatoes:

My pepper plants are also abundant. We have two varieties:  sweet Italian peppers that we eat fresh as they mature in the next few months, and the peppers of Senise that we dry and make into peperoni cruschi, or grind intosweet pepper powder.

Sweet Italian peppers:

Peperoni di Senise:

Peperoncini (hot Calabrian peppers)

When I tell my students that I buy no vegetables during the summer, I can about 80 quarts of tomatoes, and I still have enough produce to use in the cooking classes they attend, they think that I have acres of land.  But the length of my back yard is only 50 feet, and the garden is six feet wide. There are also three other sections 20 feet long and three feet wide.  We extend the garden a bit by using large pots on the patio, which hold basil, hot peppers, strawberries and even an extra cherry tomato plant that I had no other place to put.

So how does it produce so much? It's the care and work that my dad puts into it that makes it so abundant.

Here are two pictures that give you a view of my garden, the left side and right side where you can see the pots on the patio. We have another section on the side of the house with a lettuce bed, my zucchini plants, my citrus trees, and a nespolo (loquat) tree.

Here is the left side of my garden:

Here is the right side:

Not bad for an urban metropolis like Oakland!