It’s quite possible that you read the title of this post and asked yourself, “what is a frita?” It sounds rather Italian and quite probably has its roots in Italian cuisine. If you have a background in Cuban cuisine, perhaps you were thinking of the frita Cubana which in a mixture of spiced ground beef and pork, potatoes, onions, ketchup and spices. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.
Frita, at least in Provence, is nothing more than red and green bell peppers cooked over a low fire in tomato sauce. The slow cooking process brings out the sweetness of the peppers and eliminates all bitterness or bite so that even if you’re not a fan of fresh bell peppers, I urge you to give this recipe a try. It makes a great pizza topping or side dish – in the bakeries of Toulon, I’ve always seen “frita pizzas” sold as quick snacks or small lunches. And other than the time it takes to cook, it’s incredibly easy.
I love eggplant. And I have this thing about vegetables: one is never enough. So even though frita is the highlight of this dish, the earthy, wholesome eggplant taste compliments the peppers perfectly. Sautéing eggplant can be a tricky business. I didn’t realize I was doing it wrong until recently. I knew about salting the eggplant to get rid of excess moisture (though I rarely bothered), but what I didn’t know was that high heat, a small amount of oil or fat, and quick cooking are a must. Doing things the right way this time, brought out more flavor to my eggplant and they weren’t lost in the tangy pepper, tomato mixture.
One egg sunny side up; with the yellow, gooey yolk that, when broken infuses into the frita giving it an added texture and taste. This could easily be a Mediterranean style brunch. Have fresh bread on hand to mop up any remaining sauce or egg yolk. While you’re at it, a bouche de chèvre, or soft goat’s cheese goes incredibly well with this meal.
It’s easy to dress up your frita. Though I made the basic recipe here, a few black olives, rosemary, or herbes de provence would not be amiss. Don’t be afraid to use all red peppers, or throw in some yellow peppers for color. Red peppers are a must though. This recipe is also for one or two people, depending on the size of your appetite, but adding extra peppers for larger portions or extra servings won’t change the cooking time too much.
- ½ red bell pepper
- ½ green bell pepper
- 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 2 tbsp water
- salt and pepper to taste
- Wash and seed your peppers. Slice into long thin strips. Heat a little bit of olive oil over high heat in a medium sized frying pan. When the oil is hot add the peppers, garlic, and tomato paste. Add your water and stir the pan to make sure the peppers are covered and the water is mixed in. Season with salt and pepper. Once everything has come to a boil immediately lower the heat to low. Cover and let cook for 1 hour, checking occasionally to see how things are progressing. If the water appears to be evaporating add another tablespoon or two, mix and recover. The peppers should be soft, almost compote-like when done. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired.