Best Kitchen Basics
Petrina Tinslay

With far more vitamin C than your average orange, the capsicum is a surprising fruit. Its true character is released by long, slow cooking to reveal a seductive texture and richness. Piperade is the Basque cousin of the more common French ratatouille (with as many versions), and has a delicious affinity with eggs.


Quantity Ingredient
4 ripe red capsicums
4 green capsicums
50ml virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
10g raw sugar
4 whole dried chillies
6 ripe tomatoes


  1. Blacken the skin of the capsicums over a gas flame or by using a kitchen blowtorch. When the skins are completely charred, place the capsicums in a container with a tight-fitting lid to steam. When cool, rinse away the skins under running water.
  2. Segment the capsicums following the natural lines, removing the stem and seeds. Pat the segments dry.
  3. Heat 25 ml of the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and sauté the onion, garlic, salt and spices until the onion is golden. Transfer to an ovenproof casserole.
  4. Heat the remaining oil in the same frying pan and sauté the capsicum over high heat. Add the sugar and continue to toss until the capsicum starts to caramelise. Transfer this mixture to the casserole along with the dried chillies.
  5. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  6. Core the tomatoes and blister the skins with a blowtorch. Gently rub off the skins with paper towel. Chop the tomatoes coarsely and add them to the casserole.
  7. Cover the casserole with a piece of baking paper and bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes until the capsicum is soft. Leave to cool a little then serve.


  • To make your own dried chillies, buy extra-long red chillies when in season and dehydrate them overnight in a 60°C oven. They make an excellent addition to the pantry and can be used wherever you want a deep chilli flavour over the attack of the fresh. Cold-smoke them for amazing complexity.
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