The Romans historically love vegetables, so much to make them the protagonists of many preparations of the rural tradition, simple but tasty. In fact, until the end of the 19th century, vegetable gardens could be found everywhere in Rome. Among the most famous were the Orto del Greco alle Quattro Fontane and those that occupied the area of the Circus Maximus. The relationship between the city and the land continued over time: even during the Second World War and the German occupation, gardens and parks in the shadow of archaeological monuments, private or historical villas of the city, such as Villa Torlonia - the residence of the Mussolini family - were transformed into the so-called "war vegetable gardens" by necessity.
The vegetables cultivated were broad beans, chicory, mixed-leaf salad, artichokes and, of course, peppers. As they ripened, these were, until October, the ingredients of mostly Summer and Autumn Roman traditional dishes.
The DOP (PDO) pepper: the excellence of the territory
The pepper – red, yellow or green – is a multi-form plant originating in the Americas. The pepper from Pontecorvo, in the province of Frosinone, belonging to the “Capsicum annum” species and known as the “Cornetto di Pontecorvo” has received DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) status as a prime-quality regional speciality. Since 1830 – when the Principality of Pontecorvo came under the rule of the Holy See – this pepper had here an ideal environment. The soil of the area of Frosinone is slightly calcareous; the sea has mitigating effects. On the market stalls, you’ll spot this pepper immediately.
It’s red, cylindrical and elongated shaped, the skin and pulp are thin, and the fragrance is vegetal. The flavour is sapid, sweet but spicy. It is very versatile, so much to be enjoyed both fresh, in salads, pinzimonio or sweet and sour, and cooked, as an excellent side dish for main courses.
Chicken with peppers: the Summer recipe of the Roman tradition
We propose you a great classic of Roman cuisine, traditionally prepared by the families during Ferragosto, the feast recurring on 15 August. It is the Roman-style chicken with peppers; also exquisite to be enjoyed cold, strictly followed by a slice of ice-cold watermelon. As Ada Boni points out in her book, "La cucina romana" (Roman cuisine), the Roman-style pepper in a pan recipe is made exclusively with green peppers. Let's prepare this delicious dish of the Roman Summer!
Recipe: Roman-style chicken with peppers
Ingredients for 4
•1 chicken cut into 8 pieces
•50 g ham •1 clove of garlic
•1 spoonful of fresh marjoram
•1/2 glass of white wine
•3 or 4 tomatoes (medium-size)
•4 green peppers •1 onion
•10 cl of Extra Virgin olive oil
•Salt and pepper, to taste
In a pan, sauté the ham in 2 spoonfuls of oil. Add the chicken and brown it. When golden brown, add salt and pepper to taste. Then add a crushed clove of garlic, the marjoram (finely chopped) and half a glass of wine. When the wine has evaporated, add the tomatoes (peeled, with no seeds and diced). Please remember: use a high flame. If the dish dries out, add water. Roast the peppers separately. When ready, skin them and slice them length-wise into 2-cm wide strips (remove all seeds). Heat an onion in a pan with oil. When the onion begins to turn, add the peppers and salt to taste while lowering the flame (leave to simmer under a lid for 20 minutes or so). When tender and flavoursome, your peppers are ready to be added to the chicken. Mix in carefully and serve hot or cold.
Il principe "verde" della cucina romana