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Sweet-and-Sour Pickled Peppers

Scott Phillips

Yield: Makes about 1-1/2 pints

For me, the aroma of roasted peppers is the aroma of Italy. Walk down any side street in midafternoon, especially in summer, and you will surely come across that sweet and slightly pungent perfume as trattorias open their doors for lunch. This recipe enhances their silky texture and builds their flavor to nearly addictive levels. Use only red peppers for a classic version, or add some color with a mix of red, yellow, orange, and green.


  • 2-1/4 lb. (6 to 7 medium) bell peppers (red, yellow, orange, green, or a mixture)
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbs. small (nonpareil) capers, drained
  • 3/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup spring or filtered water
  • 3 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 clove garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size per 1 oz.
  • Calories (kcal) : 15
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 5
  • Fat (g): 0.5
  • Saturated Fat (g): 0
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 0
  • Cholesterol (mg): 0
  • Sodium (mg): 15
  • Carbohydrates (g): 2
  • Fiber (g): 0
  • Sugar (g): 1
  • Protein (g): 0


  • Run 2 pint-size mason jars and their lids through the hottest dishwasher cycle to sanitize.
  • Prepare a medium-high (400°F to 475°F) gas or charcoal grill fire, or position an oven rack 4 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler on high.
  • Char the peppers on all sides on the grill or on a rimmed baking sheet under the broiler, turning them every few minutes with tongs. Transfer to a medium heatproof bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let steam until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.
  • Stem, seed, and skin the peppers, then cut lengthwise into thin (1/4 inch) strips. Return to the bowl, and stir in the parsley and capers.
  • Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and garlic in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Boil the brine for 2 minutes, pour it over the peppers, and let steep for 1 hour.
  • Reserve a few tablespoons of the brine and then drain the peppers. Pack the peppers, capers, and garlic into the jars. Spoon 1 Tbs. of the reserved brine into each jar, then add enough oil to cover the peppers completely. Screw on the lids, and let the peppers sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Check to make sure they are still completely submerged; if not, add more oil to cover.
  • Refrigerate the peppers, and let them cure for 1 week before serving. The peppers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. To serve, remove from the jar only as much as you plan to use, and bring to room temperature to liquefy the oil. Top off the jar with more oil to keep the remaining peppers submerged, and return to the refrigerator.

• Serve over thick grilled pork chops.

• Toss with cooked pasta, olive oil, and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

• Pile onto a ciabatta roll with prosciutto and mozzarella.

• Fold into a frittata.

• Scatter over pizza.



Why filtered water? Vegetables pickled in agrodolce pick up all of the flavors in the brine—that’s the whole point, after all. Because water is a main component of the brine, I recommend you filter your tap water or use bottled spring water. This way, you can be sure your pickles won’t take on any off flavors from municipal water-treatment chemicals, such as chlorine, or naturally occurring minerals in well water, like sulfur.


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