I love quirky French regional dishes. Some, like sauce mistral—an almond sauce from Provence—for example, really haven't make much of a splash. And others, like piperade—a pepper stew from the Basque country—have become international sensations (at least, in fashionable brunch spots).
Piperade is a stew made from peppers, onions, and tomatoes that is flavored with a very special, and very au courant, ingredient: piment d'Espelette. It's a kind of exuberant red chili powder from the Basque region of France that is lightly spicy and very earthy. Traditionally, and in a lot of brunch places, as I was saying, the trend is to bake eggs on top of the stew and serve them together.
Well, I'm kind of bored of that, and I'm allergic to eggs. So here's a new way to do piperade (and, incidentally, a new way to do salmon, which is always useful). Stew together the onions, garlic, olive oil, red, yellow, and green peppers, tomatoes, and piment d'Espelette low and slow until everything is soft and tumbling into each other. Then, pulse it to the texture of pico di gallo. Then, you can either broil salmon and spoon the cold piperade over the top, or set the salmon into the piperade and broil them together. The richness of the salmon is cut by the spicy, garden-ness of the piperade, and it's a French dish with a decidedly Spanish accent. It's light and healthy, but it packs that piment d'Espelette punch.
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About the author: Kerry Saretsky is the creator of French Revolution Food, where she reinvents her family's classic French recipes in a fresh, chic, modern way.